By Sportswriter Wang Jimin
WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- After collecting 96 gold medals in previous Winter Olympic Games, the United States will be looking for its 100th gold medal and more in the upcoming PyeongChang 2018.
The US dispatched a 244-strong delegation for the Games which open on Feb. 9 and the team is comprised of 108 women and 135 men -- the largest athlete delegation for any country and region in the history of the Olympic Winter Games.
The United States, also aiming for their 300th overall medal after gleaning 284 medals in past Olympic Games, will be represented in 97 out of the 102 medal events in PyeongChang.
The Team features 103 returning Olympians -- including three five-time Olympians, 12 four-time Olympians and 28 three-time Olympians. The slate of veterans features 37 Olympic medalists, including 10 Olympic champions and 15 who have won multiple Olympic medals.
Familiar names such as snowboarder Shaun White, skier Lindsey Vonn and speedskater Shani Davis. The US team will also include promising young talent, such as 17-year-old snowboarder Chloe Kim, 17-year-old short track speedskater Maame Biney and 18-year-old figure skater Nathan Chen.
"Once again, Team USA is among the largest teams to compete in the Olympic Winter Games, and we continue to see a spike in excellence from Americans competing in winter sports as the sport program expands to include more opportunities for our athletes," said Alan Ashley, US chef de mission and USOC chief of sport performance.
"We are primed and ready for another strong showing from our athletes, who have made a long-time commitment to represent us as the best in the US at these Games, and we look forward to cheering for each member of Team USA on the world's greatest stage."
As usual, the medal hopes of the US team will come from the athletes of the US Ski and Snowboard Association, consisting of 24 Alpine skiers, 29 freestyle skiers and 26 snowboarders.
Olympic gold medalists Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin and Ted Ligety, and two-time medalist Andrew Weibrecht will lead a strong Alpine ski team aiming to dominate the Pyeongchang Olympics.
"I'm honored to represent my country in my second Olympic Winter Games alongside some of the top athletes of the Games, including Lindsey, Ted, and Andrew," said Shiffrin, the 2014 Sochi Games champion.
"This has already been a wonderful season, and going to the Games is almost like the cherry on top of the cake! I'm looking forward to racing against so many incredible competitors on the biggest stage of them all. I will be taking it one event at a time, exactly as I do in the World Cup events," added the 22-year-old, who has won 40 trophies in the World Cup series.
Aged just 17, Kim is tipped by many to become the breakout star of the Winter Olympics in South Korea, her parents' homeland. Too young to compete in Sochi four years ago, she's now a halfpipe snowboard specialist who has presented some impressive performances over the past few months.
Besides, two-times Olympic champion White is back for his fourth Olympics at age 31, while Sochi Games medalist Kelly Clark, 34, is back for a fifth Games.
In freestyle skiing, Ashley Caldwell and Devin Logan will also be medal hopefuls.
Unlike past Games, the US team will be eyeing more medals on ice. The 18-year-old Chen is already among the favorites for figure skating gold after composing a series of top performances this season. The US champion has shown he can line up five four-rotation quad jumps in a routine and has what it takes to challenge reigning Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan.
"It is crazy. Just think that I made the Olympic dream happen," said Chen, a son of Chinese immigrants.
Madison Hubbell/Zach Donohue, Siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani and Madison Chock/Evan Bates are all serious medal contenders in ice dance.
The US women's ice hockey team will be looking to a revenge against Canada after they lost in the final in Sochi four years ago while the men's tournament is a completely different story since the National Hockey League(NHL) is not allowing its players to participate, a big challenge for both the US and Canada. That might swing the advantage to European teams who have plenty of players from their pro leagues.
The US team won nine gold medals and 28 overall in the Sochi Games.