The Olympics isn't just a celebration of sports ability that transcends national differences, of the indomitable human spirit, or of individual achievement. Sure, it's a tribute to all of those things, but it's also a really big reality show, featuring hundreds of characters and hard-to-follow plot lines. There are countries you've forgotten about and sports you've never seen. And then there are the good guys: the members of Team USA.
Here is a guide to this year's protagonists, who have new faces, but are taking on old roles – roles previously filled by the sort of successful athletes who end up getting lucrative sandwich-endorsement deals. The show goes on.
Shaun White's new rival
In Vancouver: Louie Vito
Four years ago, "Little Louie" was considered by many to be America's biggest threat to White, in large part because he was one of only a handful of guys who'd beaten the "Flying Tomato" in a head-to-head competition. Vito finished fifth in Vancouver behind White and teammate Scotty Lago. He failed to make the 2014 team.
In Sochi: Danny Davis
The problem with Davis has never been talent – the dude can rip it. His historic weaknesses have been bad judgment and injuries, the latter often the result of the former. Davis was all set to ride in Vancouver before he broke a vertebra in a four-wheeler accident. This year, Davis comes in healthy and hot, having just defeated a Sochi-heavy, but White-less field at the X Games in Aspen. He doesn't have White's amplitude, but he sets himself apart from the field with unique, stylish tricks heavy on switch riding (meaning his back foot is forward).
Credit: Harry How / Getty Images