Winter Games Athletes
While Ivan Skobrev has been the face of Russian speedskating since he won silver in the 10,000 meters and bronze in the 5,000 at the Vancouver Games four years ago, fellow countryman Yuskov has the potential to grab some of the biggest headlines on his home soil this time around. After Yuskov beat two-time silver medalist Shani Davis of the United States and Skobrev in the 1,500 on the same Sochi oval he'll race on in the Olympics at the 2013 World Single Distance championships in a time of 1:46.32, he instantly became a favorite to win gold. Yuskov is hardly an unknown commodity on the international scene, but until he finished just outside the top three in the overall World Cup standings during the 2012-13 season he was more renowned for his actions off the ice than on it. In February 2008, at age 19 and considered one of the sport's rising stars, Yuskov was suspended four years for marijuana use. He would successfully appeal the decision in 2011 and returned to competition stronger than ever. During the early portion of that suspension and throughout 2013, the three-time world champion in the 1,500 studied at Moscow University while continuing to pursue his shot at Olympic glory.