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News Specialist Sammy Linebaugh Reports

Behind every Olympian is a story of struggles, victories and sometimes defeats. Through five decades filmmaker Bud Greenspan has chronicled the most engaging stories of Olympic athletes through his films.

On Thursday, Greenspan announced his picks of the top 25 greatest Winter Olympians of all time. From this list he will choose his top 10 favorites during the 2002 Winter Games at the "General Motors Presents Bud Greenspan's 10 Greatest Winter Olympians" program in Park City.

"Throughout the 50 years I have been documenting the Olympic Games, I have been privileged to witness thousands of great athletes compete, who in doing so have honored us all with their courage," Greenspan said. "But as in all things, there are always those few who stand above the rest, men and women who have inspired us on and off the playing field. They have become legends for alltime."

The list consists of figure skaters Dick Button, Peggy Fleming, Gillis Grafstrom, Sonja Henie, Irina Rodnina, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, and Katarina Witt; speedskaters Bonnie Blair, Lee-Kyung Chun, Eric Heiden, Dan Jansen, Johann Olav Koss, and Lydia Skoblikova; skiers Deborah Compagnoni, Bjorn Daehlie, Jean-Claude Killy, Andrea Mead Lawrence, Irina Rodnina, Toni Sailer, Vreni Schneider and Alberto Tomba; biathlete Myriam Bedard; bobsledder Eugenio Monti; hockey player Vladislav Tretiak; and Ulrich Wehling, who competed in the Nordic combined.

Some athletes, like Picabo Street, could not be considered according to Greenspan's self-imposed rules because they are still competing.

Greenspan will count down his top 10 one day at a time for 10 days during the Winter Games. On each day the announcement will be accompanied by a short film about the Olympian and an appearance by that person.

Greenspan said during a conference call that the Winter Games have taken on an enhanced importance since Sept. 11.

"It used to be corny when people would shout 'U-S-A, U-S-A.' Now it really means something," Greenspan said.

Greenspan also took time to relate some of his favorite Olympic moments, including an impromptu singing of the national anthem after the 1980 hockey "Miracle on Ice" and watching a marathoner push himself to finish the race after it was already long over.

The Greenspan events will take place at the Chevy Hot Zone, hosted by General Motors, located at the Kimball Art Center in Park City. The 10 events will be on Feb. 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21, 22 and 23, the latter when Greenspan will name his top pick.

E-MAIL: pthunell@desnews.com