Athletes to watch today

Olympics 2006

February 17, 2006|By CANDUS THOMSON | CANDUS THOMSON,SUN REPORTER

Alpine skiing

ANJA PAERSON

TV: NBC, 8-11:30 p.m. -- Anja Paerson is only 24 but already has a mountain named after her near her hometown of Tarnaby, Sweden, near the Arctic Circle. Fewer than 1,000 people live in Tarnaby, but it is also home to one of the greatest alpine skiers of all time, Ingemar Stenmark, who won 86 World Cup races during his career. He also has a mountain named for him. Paerson might not catch Stenmark in World Cup victories, but she has won two consecutive overall World Cup titles. She won two medals, a silver in the giant slalom and a bronze in the slalom, four years ago in Salt Lake City, proving her technical ability. But now she also is a threat in the speed events, finishing third in the women's downhill here Tuesday. That makes her a gold-medal contender in today's alpine combined. Her father is a Swedish national ski coach.

Randy Harvey

Snowboarding

LINDSEY JACOBELLIS

TV: NBC, 8-11:30 p.m.; USA, 4 a.m.-1:30 p.m. -- The trend in sports is to specialize, which makes what winter wunderkind Lindsey Jacobellis does seem even more remarkable. She's competing at these Games in both the halfpipe and the snowboard cross. While both events fall under the "snowboard" header, they're nothing alike. The halfpipe is all about style, the snowboard cross all about speed. Jacobellis excels in both. (It'd be as if swimmer Michael Phelps were a medal contender in diving.) Jacobellis, 20, won five of seven World Cup events last season, including all four snowboard cross races. She ranked eighth at the 2005 world championships in the halfpipe and won worlds in snowboard cross.

Rick Maese

Skeleton

CHRIS SOULE

TV: NBC, 8-11:30 p.m. -- Chris Soule has been a movie stuntman, but he could move up from bit player to leading man if he can ride to the rescue of the floundering U.S. men's skeleton team. He flew to Italy at the last minute after teammate Zach Lund was disqualified because he tested positive for a banned substance: a hair-restoration product. Soule, 33, was seventh at the 2002 Winter Games and second in last year's World Cup standings. The other two U.S. sliders are Eric Bernotas of West Chester, Pa., and Kevin Ellis, a former 110-meter hurdler, from Dallas. Both are Olympic rookies.

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