Athletes to watch today

Turin Olympics

February 19, 2006

Ice dancing

FUSAR-POLI & MARGAGLIO

TV: NBC, 7-midnight -- After winning the bronze medal in ice dancing in 2002, Italy's Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio figured they couldn't do any better and retired. But the lure of the Winter Olympics in their home country proved too great and they returned to competition this season. "How could we resist the temptation?" Fusar-Poli said. It turns out they might have been wrong about not being able to improve on their Salt Lake City performance. They are leading going into tonight's original dance, having won the compulsory dance on Friday night. The final phase of the competition, the free dance, is scheduled for tomorrow night. Fusar-Poli and Margaglio are both from Milan. She is married and had her first child, a girl, during her retirement. He is a former soccer player.

Randy Harvey

Speed skating

CHRIS WITTY

TV: NBC, 7-midnight -- You saw her in the opening ceremony last week carrying the U.S. flag and leading the delegation. It was an honor bestowed by fellow athletes on the four-time Olympian, one of only nine U.S. athletes to compete in both the Summer and Winter Games. Witty, 30, was an alternate on the cycling team in 1996 and a team member at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney. As a speed skater in Nagano in 1998, she won the silver medal in the 1,000-meter race and the bronze medal in the 1,500-meter race. Four years ago, she stood atop the podium as the winner of the 1,000-meter competition. Today, she'll skate in the 1,000-meter race, a distance in which she is ranked sixth in the world.

Candus Thomson

Freestyle skiing

LI NINA

TV: NBC, 7-midnight -- China's Li Nina has gone from the top of the pyramid to the top of the world. The aerialist is a former acrobat who wouldn't even be on skis if it weren't for that darn growth spurt. Li was only 6 years old when she was recruited for a Chinese acrobatic troupe and assigned to the top of the pyramid formation. But by the time Li was 12, she had grown too much - though not enough to be at the base of the pyramid. Officials from her sports academy didn't want to lose Li's athletic talents, so they strapped a pair of skis to her feet and set her loose. Entering the Games, Li is considered almost a sure thing to medal. She has finished first in the World Cup standings each of the past two years. She found the podium in 11 of her 12 events last year, taking first in six of them.

Rick Maese

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