Names such as Bode Miller and Julia Mancuso may grab the headlines, but there are plenty of other U.S. athletes who have been rigorously training for their shot at Olympic gold in sports ranging from biathlon to skeleton. Keep an eye out for some of these TOP CONTENDERS on the podium in Sochi, Russia, this month. 

Parallel giant slalom

Justin Reiter
NBC Olympics/USOC
Hometown: Steamboat Springs, Colo.
2013 highlight: FIS Snowboarding World Championships, parallel slalom, silver
How he earns his “man card”: Carpentry and home improvement

Now based in Crested Butte, Colo., Reiter has been snowboarding since he was given his first board at age 9 — even sleeping with it that first night — and he has put his carpentry skills
to work building a garage.
Arielle Gold
NBC Olympics/USOC
Hometown: Steamboat Springs, Colo.
2013 highlights: FIS Snowboarding World Championships, half-pipe, gold; European Open, half-pipe, first place
What she misses most when she’s on the mountain: Her horses, Sparky and Bugs

At the ripe age of 17, Gold has been competing more than half her life, exploding onto the scene as an alternate at the 2013 X Games, where she claimed bronze.
Tom Wallisch
NBC Olympics/USOC
Hometown: Pittsburgh
Notable finish: Winter X Games XVI (2012), slopestyle, gold
Where he’s studying (off the snow): University of Utah

Wallisch, who’s based in Park City, Utah, recently released The Wallisch Project, a short film showcasing his skills on the snow and on the streets, set to the tunes of Frankie Valli and the Visioneers.
Keri Herman
NBC Olympics/USOC
Hometown: Bloomington, Minn.
2013 highlight: Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix, slopestyle, first place
Favorite pro athletes: Tom Gilbert of the Florida Panthers and Zach Parise of the Minnesota Wild

A relative latecomer to the sport, Herman was a competitive hockey player till enrolling at the University of Denver, when she turned her focus to skiing. Better late than never: In 2012, she won the slopestyle World Cup.
Short track
Eddy Alvarez
NBC Olympics/USOC
Hometown: Miami
2013 highlight: U.S. Short Track Speedskating Championships, fourth
Why he likes the dish palomilla con arroz y frijoles: It reminds him of his Cuban-American heritage and his grandmother, who used to make it for him.

Alvarez spent a lot of time inline skating around South Beach and only discovered speedskating after someone suggested he give the ice a try.
Long track
Heather Richardson
NBC Olympics/USOC
Hometown: High Point, N.C.
2013 highlight: World Sprint Championships, gold
Favorite vacation escape with her family: Myrtle Beach, S.C.

With two parents who skated competitively, Richardson has speed in her blood. She represented the United States in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, and she relishes the chance to race against the clock in long-track races.
Katie Eberling
NBC Olympics/USOC
Hometown: Palo Hills, Ill.
2013 highlights: FIBT World Championships, two-woman, silver; United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation Women’s Bobsled Athlete of the Year
Where she was heading before being invited to try bobsledding in 2010: Elementary education

Brakeman Eberling went to college on a volleyball scholarship and ran track in high school. While training in Lake Placid, N.Y., she’s kept her hand in the classroom by playing pen pal to some Indiana fifth-graders.
Steven Holcomb
NBC Olympics/USOC
Hometown: Park City, Utah
Career highlights: His 2010 four-man team brought home the first U.S. gold medal in bobsledding since 1948.
Service: Seven-year member of the Utah National Guard

The heavily medaled Holcomb, his team’s pilot, suffered from a degenerative eye disease that almost kept him home from Vancouver; he later wrote a memoir about the treatment that saved his career.