As we settle into the sad realization that were only midway through winter, a few lucky ladies are getting in their last month of practice before the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The games kick off in Vancouver on Feb. 12, but this group of girls have been growing up and getting ready since they first set foot into a snowboard, skis, a sled, or skates. With a talented mix of both seasoned and fresh competitors, one thing is certain—they are all hungry for the gold. Here is your guide to America’s leading ladies in all things sport and snow.
- Lindsey Vonn, Alpine Skiing. She’s still an unfamiliar face in the U.S., but Lindsey has won two World Cup titles and two World Championships. The 25-year-old was expected to be a tough medal contender in the 2006 Torino Games, but suffered injuries from a fall during training. Vonn did not let the injuries prevent her from participating, getting seventh place while suffering through the severe leg and back pain. When she’s 100%, she seems almost unbeatable. [NBC]
- Caydee Denney, Pairs Figure Skating. Talk of Sasha Cohen’s tentative return may be sapping up the figure skating limelight, but young unknown Caydee has been making headlines as well. Denney and her partner, Jeremy Barret, claimed a surprise victory at the U.S Figure Skating Championships, with a performance that earned them the first spot on the U.S. pairs figure skating roster. If Denney’s athletic display at nationals serves as a sample of her Olympic worth (as it usually does) then she will prove to be a tough up and coming competitor. Denney, while new to professional figure skating, is no stranger to skating victories, having won the national juvenile roller singles at the age of 9. [NBC]
- Sauna Rohbock, Bobsled. Rohbock has already received a first place medal at Vancouver’s 2010 Olympic bobsled track, winning the Whistler World Cup at the site where this year’s games will be held. But the 2006 silver medalist is not quick to count this as a predictive win. Rohbock has been patient throughout her Olympic appearances, even gracefully accepting the loss of her spot to another brakeman at the Salt Lake Games. But you would have to have patience to grow up with seven siblings like Rohbock did. Now she’s ready to win with four-time gold-medal sled “Buddy.” [NBC]
- Debbie McCormick, Curling. To me, curling looks like a weird type of floor-cleaning method put on ice, but to McCormick it is passion. She was part of the U.S team’s first world championship win and her now-husband even proposed to her during the 1998 Nagano games. Though for all the bright times during her career McCormick has seen several dark ones as well, including missing qualifications for the 2006 Olympic Games by just a few inches. She still remains dedicated to the sport, and this dedication has lead her to her third Olympic Winter Games. Hopefully, her most successful. [NBC]
- Erin Hamlin, Luge. Hamlin’s career has been interjected with pleasant surprises. The first being her qualification to the 2006 U.S. luging team, a result that not even she could predict. Hamlin’s greatest achievement is her recent World Championship win in 2009. This was no only a big win for Hamlin, but for America as well having finally broken Germany’s 99-race winning streak at the competition. This performance has won her a place on this year’s U.S. Olympic team, and her own sundae at The Soda Fountain, a local ice cream shop in Hamlin’s home town. [NBC]
- Lindsey Jacobellis, Snowboarding. Jacobellis is a two-time world champion, and has won two World Cups in snowboarding. Though, these achievements are not the reason to watch Jacobellis in this year’s Winter Olympics. The reason to watch is because she is out for redemption. Jacobellis is looking to cement her success as a great snowboarder after an embarrassing 2006 Olympic Winter Games. She seem poised to win an Olympic medal at Torino, but crushed her chances when she faltered on a difficult, and what some believe to be unnecessary, flashy jump near the end of her run. This mistake cost Jacobellis the one medal she has yet to earn and won her the title of “show-off.” You know what they say about women scorned. [NBC, The Canadian Press]
Who are the other Olympians you’ll be watch for?