"I honestly can't even remember anyone else besides Shaun White," said one American fan at the London Summer Games. "I know there's that one ice skater guy from the Subway commercials and then I think there was some skiing girl? Or was that snowshoes? Is snowshoeing a winter sport? Ah, who cares."
Experts say such a phenomena occurs once every two years, usually prompted by the beginning of a new Olympic season. Or simply because the day after the Winter Olympics always comes and everyone moves on.
"The public can only soak in so many storylines," said TV analyst Dave Jennings. "What with Phelps, Bolt and the U.S. gymnasts, the public doesn't have the mental capacity to store memories of Winter Olympians past. It's strange, because just two years ago, I was so invested in all the Olympians, especially with that flamboyant figure skater, Johnny Weir. But nowadays, I had to actually Google 'flamboyant figure skater' to even come up with his name."
There has been speculation as to which current Olympian's storyline will most likely be forgotten come next Winter Olympics. While there has been some debate, the consensus seems to be Ryan Lochte, or as he will most likely be known in 2014: "That douchey swimmer guy."
Meanwhile, there are several 2014 Winter Olympians who Americans currently can't recognize despite possibly being neighbors or co-workers that will briefly become national heroes in 18 months in Sochi, Russia.
"Thousands of American parents will be inspired to name their children after these future heroes who are possibly named Steve or Braxton or Michelle or Kylie or something," said Jennings. "Who knows. I guess we'll find out."