Athletes to Watch Today

Winter Olympics

February 23, 2006|By RANDY HARVEY

Snowboarding

MICHELLE GORGONE

TV: NBC, 4-5 p.m., 8 p.m.-midnight -- You can't make this stuff up. According to NBC.com, U.S. snowboarder Michelle Gorgone's mother wanted to name her Michelin because she liked the name of the tire company. Wiser heads prevailed. Her father said no. So they compromised and named her Michelle Lynn. Gorgone, 22, of Sudbury, Mass., will compete today in the women's parallel giant slalom. She has an outside chance to win a medal if she doesn't crash, which she often does. She's known as one of the more daring snowboarders. Sometimes it pays off. She was sixth overall in last year's World Cup standings. Her family is Italian, which is why, again from NBC.com, one of her coaches nicknamed her "Pirelli" - for the Italian tire company.

Freestyle skiing

SPEEDY PETERSON

TV: NBC, 8 p.m.-midnight -- Jeret "Speedy" Peterson is the only U.S. freestyle skier in today's aerial finals. So at least U.S. television audiences will get a chance to see him perform his famed "Hurricane," a quintuple jump in combination with a twisting triple back flip that, he says, makes him feel as if he's amid a real hurricane. He doesn't say how he knows how that feels. He is from Boise, Idaho, where there aren't many of those kinds of storms. Peterson, 24, won the World Cup overall title last year, three years after he had a surprise top 10 finish - ninth - in Salt Lake City's Winter Games. But he's not among the medal favorites here. He was sexually abused when he was 2 years old and speaks often about it, hoping to help children who feel as helpless as he did. That is not the only trauma he has experienced. He witnessed his roommate commit suicide with a gun last year.

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