2010 Winter Olympics: 10 athletes who already have crossover fame
That's all great, and it's part of the appeal of the Olympics. But the 2010 Winter Games also feature a fair number of athletes who've already made that crossover. Following in the footsteps of Dorothy Hamill, Peggy Fleming, the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" hockey team and others, these athletes have become recognizable outside the arena too -- and it turns out a couple of them are pretty fair dancers.
Here are 10 athletes whose names you probably already know.
Gretchen Bleiler: She won the silver medal in the women's halfpipe in 2006, and she's the best-known female snowboarder in the world at this point. She's modeled for FHM, appeared in the pages of Rolling Stone and has her own clothing and outerwear line with Oakley.
Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin: OK, so maybe in the U.S., the fame of the two best players in the National Hockey League doesn't extend very far off the ice. But Crosby (Canada) and Ovechkin (Russia) are rock stars in their home countries, and their NHL rivalry will get an extra flag-waving boost as they lead their teams -- two of the favorites -- into the Olympic hockey tournament.
Bode Miller: In 2006, the free-spirited downhill skier had signature video games and was one of NBC's pre-ordained stars of the Turin games. Then he talked about skiing while "wasted" on "60 Minutes," flamed out in the competition and chewed up and spit out by the sports hype machine. Watch for a redemption-themed storyline this time around.
Apolo Ohno: Ohno made his name by winning five short-track medals in the '02 and '06 Olympics. In 2007, he added the "Dancing with the Stars" mirror-ball trophy to his collection, winning the ABC show's fourth season with partner Julianne Hough. He's also done numerous commercials.
Angela Ruggiero: She's the all-time leader in games played for the U.S. women's hockey team and is competing in her fourth Olympics this year. But if you're not a hockey fan, you may recognize the Harvard grad from her time competing on the sixth season of "The Apprentice." She was voted onto the show by viewers following the 2006 Olympics and finished ninth.
Louie Vito: Vito is the rare athlete to get massive exposure before his first Olympics. He competed on "Dancing with the Stars" last fall and lasted until week six. The snowboarder made the Olympic half-pipe team in January.
Lindsey Vonn: Vonn has been tearing up the alpine skiing circuit all season and is a gold-medal favorite in Vancouver. She's also been the focus of some controversy in the past couple of weeks for a glammed-up Sports Illustrated cover -- which will probably intensify when the magazine's annual swimsuit issue, which features her and several other Olympic athletes posing in bikinis -- hits newsstands his week.
Johnny Weir: The only men's figure skater in Vancouver with his own reality show -- "Be Good Johnny Weir," which airs on the Sundance Channel -- Weir will be competing in his second Olympics. Weir is never shy about sharing his thoughts, which makes for good television. He's also the subject of a documentary film, "Pop Star on Ice."
Shaun White: White is pretty much the Michael Jordan of snowboarding, and his dominance of the halfpipe -- he's the defending men's gold medalist and has more than a dozen X Games gold medals -- has translated to endorsements with Target, HP and Red Bull in addition to a bunch of companies related to his sport. He'll once again be one of the faces of the Olympics.
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Photo credits: NBC