Vonn, White and Ohno head U.S. Olympic team medal bid

By Steve Keating

Short track speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno joined Vonn and White as the featured names on the 216-member team for Vancouver, announced just after midnight.

Ohno and White were among 31 returning medalists to the Olympic squad.

"We've got a team that is going to be very strong with quite a few returning Olympians and I think it's good to look at the results our teams have had leading into these Games," said Alan Ashley the USOC managing director of sport performance.

"It's going to be tough. The Canadians are going to be particularly strong at home but Germany, Norway and Russia will bring very, very strong teams plus a number of other nations will have individuals who will make superstar showings here."

White, known as the Flying Tomato, will be the man to beat in the halfpipe where he defends his Turin gold, with Vonn a likely medal threat in every alpine discipline after nine World Cup wins this season.

Ohno returns as the most decorated member of the U.S. squad with five medals (two gold, one silver and two bronze) leaving him tied with long track speedskating great Eric Heiden for the most medals won by an American man at a Winter Games.

ONE MORE MEDAL

If Ohno can add one more to his total in Vancouver he will join speedskater Bonnie Blair as the most successful American Winter Olympic athlete with six medals.

Three Olympians will take part in their fifth Winter Games; luger Mark Grimmette, Nordic combined skier Todd Lodwick and Casey Puckett, who competed in four straight Games as an alpine skier and returns as a member of the ski-cross team.

The USOC said they were confident of success despite choosing not to predict a finishing position in the medal table, unlike the Canadians who have set the ambitious goal of ending up on top.

"We expect the Canadians to be in a very strong position," USOC chief of sport performance Mike English said.

"They certainly will enjoy home field advantage, they've talked extensively about their "Own the Podium" program but we haven't exactly been sitting back.

"Breakout sports are going to really add a lot of opportunity for Team USA to be in medal contention in a lot of sports."

The U.S. finished second in the overall medal count at the 2006 Turin Olympics with 25, behind Germany with 29.

(Editing by Patrick Johnston)