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How many medals will U.S. win at Vancouver? 'A lot'

September 10, 2009 |  8:28 am

Ted CHICAGO -- Way to go out on a limb, U.S. Olympic Committee!

The USOC on Thursday kicked off its pre-Olympic media summit, in which prospective Vancouver Olympians meet the media for photos, interviews, etc.

Its opening event was a USOC leadership press conference in which the leaders were asked to predict how many medals Team USA will take home from the Vancouver Winter Games in February.

At least they were consistent in their evasiveness.

"A lot," said Mike Plant, chef de mission for the U.S. team.

"We're not going to make a prediction on medal counts," said Mike English, chief of sport performance for the USOC. "We're on track. We're going to be very competitive."

U.S. athletes won 25 medals at the last Winter Games at Turin in 2006, nine gold, nine silver and seven bronze. That ranked second in the unofficial medals table behind Germany, which won 11 gold, 12 silver and six bronze.

This event being in Chicago, one of four finalists to host the 2016 Games, interest was high in the state of the city's bid and whether it will emerge the winner when the International Olympic Committee announces the winner on Oct. 2 in Copenhagen.

The president of Brazil has said he will attend the Oct. 2 announcement in support of Rio de Janeiro's bid, and the king of Spain will do the same for Madrid's bid. Tokyo bid officials have invited Crown Prince Naruhito and Princess Masako to attend.

President Obama has not committed to attending, and in the oh-so-political world of Olympic bids and voting, that could have a negative impact.

"We really hope he goes," said Stephanie Streeter, acting chief executive officer of the USOC. "We've made it clear that we hope he will be there to augment the great bid that Chicago 2016 has made.

"We would love for him to be there. We think he will make a difference."

More as the program continues today in Chicago. Next up: the women's hockey team.

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: American Ted Ligety bites his gold medal after winning the men's Alpine Combined at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy. Credit: Greg Baker / Associated Press