Originally created 02/05/06

Dozens of Olympic Web sites cheer athletes



The Michelle Kwan Guardian Angels boast of more than 800 Internet members who vow to love and protect the American figure skater from bashing in chat rooms or message boards.

They must have been sending good vibes her way during her performance for a five-person monitoring committee in Los Angeles on Jan. 28, where she protected her spot on the U.S. Olympic team by proving she is healthy enough to compete in Turin.

So what if that site - www.dianesrink.com/mkga/ - hasn't been updated in nearly three years? It is interesting nonetheless, with a membership breakdown by state and country.

Dozens of Olympic-related fan sites have been established for everyone from outspoken Alpine skier Bode Miller www.fans.bodelicious.net to speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno www.apoloportal.net and www.ohnozone.net, and many athletes have their own personal sites, too - such as Miller's www.bodemillerusa.com and Ohno's www.apoloantonohno.com.

At www.offthepodium.com, with its cool graphics, great black-and-white images of athletes from various sports and entertaining bio pages meant to target teenagers and 20-somethings, it's revealed that U.S. men's snowboarder Shaun White always carries his shark tooth necklace, a pumpkin carving knife and a spinning wheel "for throwing clay on the road." He also cooks a killer vodka penne pasta.

"With the veggies and vodka cream sauce, it's really good," he says.

Viewers also can learn there that Alpine skier Julia Mancuso's best Halloween costume was when she dressed up as the Statue of Liberty and made a torch out of tin foil. Click on music and nightlife to find athletes' music recommendations, favorite cities, top restaurants and nightclub picks.

Norwegian freestyle skier Kari Traa, the gold medalist in moguls four years ago in Salt Lake City, offers her own Web site www.karitraa.com in four languages: Norwegian, English, German and French - a gondola glides across the screen over images of snowcapped mountains until you select a language. Proceed and find out how to purchase clothing with her funky sportswear label, or get updates on her Olympic preparation.

For those who jump on the curling bandwagon every four years, www.curlgirls.com offers all the necessary insight about the American women, while www.curlingbasics.com explains basic curling situations and strategy through animated examples.

Follow U.S. women's hockey defenseman and three-time Olympian Angela Ruggiero's journal entries leading up to the Olympics, look at photos and get the chance to purchase the 26-year-old's autobiography on www.angelaruggiero.com.

Log onto www.alanalborn.us to meet U.S. ski jumper Alan Alborn, competing in his third Olympics. Alborn had knee surgery after the 2002 Olympics and retired briefly, returning to his native Alaska to start an excavating business with his father before realizing he wasn't ready to give up jumping for good.

Figure skater Sasha Cohen has her share of sites. At www.sashafans.com, find out that Cohen loves to eat lobster, coffee ice cream and meringues, that her favorite actress is Julia Roberts and that she reads the Harry Potter series in her spare time. Her own site, www.sashacohen.com, describes her recent appearance on Jay Leno's show.

"When they called me to come on stage, I was just a little nervous but not much," she writes in her journal. "After skating by yourself on ice in front of thousands of people, there isn't much to get nervous about."

Her site lists her short and long programs dating back to 1999, and provides a photo gallery with pictures from as far back as her childhood days as a rookie performer.

U.S. cross-country sprint skier Andrew Newell - also an avid aerials guy using Nordic skis off homemade jumps - started his own business, www.xskifilms.com, in 2002 with the mission "to promote the sport of Nordic skiing with our movies and increase the level of competition here in America."

For those devoted to trading or collecting Olympic pins, www.classicpins.com and www.pindemonium.com offer dozens of design options.

And at www.roots.com, Ohno models the 2006 version of the U.S. Olympic team beret that the Americans debuted in Salt Lake City in 2002. Not surprisingly, it is offered in red, white and blue.