by Ralph Routon
Scott Blackmun isn't taking any of the credit for the United States athletes' unexpectedly strong showing so far in the 2010 Winter Olympics at Vancouver. After all, the U.S. Olympic Committee's new CEO has been on the job less than two months.
But Blackmun, in an interview with the Independent, admits that the Americans' 23 medals through Saturday are "ahead of our projections, and by a fair amount." He held off from saying what the USOC's specific projections were, based on off-the-record input from the winter sports' national governing bodies, but he implied that the number was somewhere between 25 and 30 for the entire Winter Games.
And the U.S. total could hit 25 on Sunday. First, there's the men's super-combined ski event, with downhill in the morning and slalom in the afternoon, with Bode Miller on a hot streak at Whistler and Ted Ligety having won the super-combined gold in 2006. But they're up against a strong field of Europeans.
Later in the day, at Cypress Mountain, there's the men's ski cross event with former Alpine skier Daron Rahlves and Casey Puckett considered as medal contenders.
And at the Whistler Sliding Center, bobsledders Steven Holcomb and Curt Tomasevicz of Colorado Springs have a chance for a medal in the 2-man event with the final two runs tonight.
Not for medals, but still with much interest, the U.S. faces Canada in men's hockey tonight to wrap up pool play, with the outcome to determine seeding for the medal round.