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posted: 2/21/2010 12:01 AM

A few stories of Olympians you may not have heard yet

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  • Gold medalist in women's moguls Hannah Kearney of the USA reacts during the medal ceremony at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sunday.

      Gold medalist in women's moguls Hannah Kearney of the USA reacts during the medal ceremony at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sunday.
    Associated Press

 
 

No offense to the Olympic Games in Vancouver, but I'm a Summer Olympics girl myself.

I'm much more interested in sports such as basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, swimming and track than I am luge, curling and skeleton.

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However, that doesn't mean I don't appreciate a good story, and I've discovered some good ones about several of the top female winter Olympians from the United States thus far.

Olympic-sized sweet tooth: Perhaps only second to her desire to win an Olympic gold medal, which she did earlier this week by placing first in the moguls, freestyle skier Hannah Kearney really wants to be a "dairy queen."

Kearney is a native of Vermont, the home of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. She has been lobbying to have the company name a flavor after her.

Apparently, she has offered to do all the "testing" on a new flavor in her name, which she has already suggested be a combination of coffee ice cream and Oreo cookies.

Co-founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are big Kearney fans, but sold the company and are involved only in an advisory capacity.

"If I could (create a flavor for Kearney), I would," Greenfield sad. "We're very, very proud of Hannah."

Believe it or not, Kearney wouldn't even be the first Olympian with her own flavor. U.S. snowboarder Hannah Teter, also of Vermont, is the inspiration for Ben & Jerry's "Hannah Teter's Maple Blondie."

A big sap: "Maple Blondie," Teter's ice cream flavor, is related to her upbringing.

Each year, her family made maple syrup together. She and her four older brothers would climb trees near their Vermont home and collect gallons upon gallons of tree sap. That sap was then boiled to create the syrup.

Teter, who actually travels with her homemade syrup, has also tied her charitable activities to syrup.

About four years ago, she founded her charity, Hannah's Gold, to help support a village in Kenya. All of her prize money won at snowboarding events, along with proceeds of maple syrup sales in Vermont, goes to building schools, growing food, and digging wells in the village. Haiti is also on her help list.

Teter, who appeared in a bikini in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, has a merchandise line called Sweet Cheeks and is donating $5 from each pair of underwear sold through her website (sweetcheekspanties.com) to Doctors Without Borders for its efforts in Haiti.

Teter is hoping to raise $100,000 for Haiti by May.

Ice princess: It wasn't supposed to go this far, but now tiaras are part of Julia Mancuso's regular ensemble.

During the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, the American skier was given a tiara by her coach, as a joke. She ran with it and wore it over her helmet in competitions.

It became a good luck charm, and although the placement of objects on helmets has since been banned, she still has her lucky charm.

She had a tiara painted on her helmet. She'll often wear a real one after competing.

"It's just about celebrating your inner princess," said Mancuso, who won silver on Thursday in the super-combined to give USA its first medal by a woman in that event since 1948.

Mancuso earlier won silver in downhill alpine behind teammate Lindsey Vonn.

Street scene: After years of injury and frustration, Lindsey Vonn finally experienced the sweet taste of victory in winning the downhill alpine skiing gold medal.

Vonn has been nursing an injured shin most recently, but spent many months prior to that rehabbing other injuries after she was involved in a horrific crash at the 2006 Torino Games.

But Vonn has persevered.

She's been on a mission to be the world's best downhill skier ever since meeting the legendary Picabo Street when she was 10 years old at an autograph signing.

The encounter motivated Vonn to turn her hobby into a competitive passion.

Vonn and Street eventually became teammates for the 2002 Salt Lake Games. And when Vonn crashed in 2006, it was Street who encouraged her during the recovery.

Vonn recovered so quickly that she was able to return to the games in time to compete in the downhill race.

pbabcock@dailyherald.com

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