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Bobsled & skeleton profiles

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Born in Del Rio, Texas, on May 21, 1969, Hays recently lived for a time with his father in Heber City. A former U.S. kickboxing champion and football athlete, he attended the University of Oklahoma and is a resident of Del Rio. At 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, he is a formidable bobsled pilot. Hays won the national four-man bobsled championship in Park City in 1999, won the 2000 National Team Selection Races and jumped to an early lead in World Cup competition this season.


The top Swiss bobsled pilot, Annen was born in Arth, Switzerland, on Feb. 12, 1974, so he will celebrate his 28th birthday the same month as the Salt Lake Winter Games. He has been on his country's national team three years and lists as his occupation "cheese maker." He won the 2000-01 World Cup in the two-man bobsled and came in fourth in the four-man. This year, after four World Cup races, he was ranked second to Todd Hays in the two-man and third in the four-man.


Among Germany's powerhouse team, Langen is a perennial champion. Born March 27, 1962, in Kln, he lives in the vicinity of Strub-Berchtesgaden and lists "soldier" as his occupation. He won gold and bronze medals in the 1998 Nagano Olympics, plus World Championships and the World Cup. This season he missed one World Cup race but has been burning up the ice since. Even with the missed race, just after the season's halfway mark he was ranked third in the two-man and fifth in the four-man sled.


Born June 10, 1970, in Marietta, Ga., Dionne is a resident of Alpharetta, Ga. He launched his career in 1994. According to the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federatimon, he proposed to his wife, Tracy, by hiring a pilot to fly a proposal banner over the Charlotte, N.C., Motor Speedway. Just past the midway point in the present World Cup season, Dionne was the top American pilot in the men's bobsled after Todd Hayes, ranked 16th in the two-man and 17th in the four-man competition.


At the midpoint of this season's World Cup contest, Lange, a German soldier, was ranked second in the four-man bobsled and sixth in the two-man bobsled. Born June 28, 1973, in Ilmenau, Germany, he lives in Suhl. Lange began bobsledding in 1993 and is a member of the B.S.R. Rennsteig Oberhof club. In 1999-2000, he was seventh in the two-man and eighth in the four-man World Cup races. Last season he won the World Cup gold in the four-man bobsled and the bronze in the two-man competition.



With the women's World Club bobsled season nearly finished, Prokoff of Germany was tied with that country's Susi-Lisa Erdmann for first place. Born Jan. 4, 1975, in Dresden, Prokoff lives in Winterberg, site of one of German's three bobsled/skeleton/luge tracks. Prokoff, a soldier, began her racing career in 2000. Last season she won the silver in the overall World Cup women's bobsled rankings, second to America's Jean Racine.


Like several others in the powerful German teams, Erdmann lists her occupation as "soldier." Born on Jan. 29, 1968, in Blankenburg-Harz, she lives in Munich. She began her bobsled career in 1999, and last season she was ranked third overall in World Cup competition. This season, after six of eight events, she was tied with Sandra Prokoff (Germany) for the highest point total. So far, in the six races, Erdmann has taken one gold and five silver medals.


Winner of the World Cup in the previous two seasons, Racine has a slew of honors to her name. Racine was born Sept. 20, 1973, in Waterford, Mich., where she now lives, and she attended Oakland University. After six of the seven World Cup races this season, she was tied for third place overall with another American driver, Bonny Warner. In 1998, Racine won two silver medals at the International Cup Competition in Winterberg, Germany, the first American woman bobsled pilot to win a medal on a foreign track.


As brakeman for Jean Racine, Davidson has raked in a ton of gold and silver medals, setting world records along the way. Born Oct. 23, 1972, in Ogden, she attended Utah State University where she was a champion in track. She is a resident of Layton. However, Racine and Davidson recently split up. In a Deseret News interview earlier this year, Davidson said only two races would really matter this season: the Olympic trials and the Winter Games.


A commercial airline pilot as well as one of America's top bobsled pilots, Warner was tied for third place with Jean Racine toward the end of this World Cup season. She was born in Mount Baldy, Calif., on April 7, 1962, and lives in Discovery Bay, Calif. Last season's program for races at Bear Hollow called her "the senior citizen of the U.S. team." She is relatively new to bobsled, but she was a three-time Olympian in luge. Warner was sixth in World Cup standings during the 1999-2000 season. Gea Johnson, who had been her brakeman, recently joined Jean Racine when Racine replaced Jen Davidson.



After two of the seven World Cup races, Pedersen, a member of the Swiss team, is the first-place woman. Born in Hondrich, Switzerland, on Nov. 27, 1972, she is now a resident of Bern. In the 1999-2000 season, she was second overall in the World Cup. Last season she took the bronze in the World Cup tour. This season she was off to a good start, coming in fourth in the race at Konigssee, Germany, on Nov. 16, and first in the Nov. 21 race at Igls, Austria.


The greatest star of the British team, Coomber actually was born in Antwerp, Belgium, on Dec. 28, 1973. She lives in Bruggen, Germany. Coomber is an awe-inspiring slider, winning three of four races in the 1999-2000 season to win the World Cup. The next year, of five World Cup races, Coomber won three gold medals, one silver and one bronze, to win the overall title. She was listed in third place after two World Cup races this season.


After two World Cup women's skeleton events, Parsley emerged as the top American. Born in Logan, W.Va., on June 12, 1963, she lives in Granville, Ohio. She has earned degrees at Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va.; the University of Virginia; and Ohio State University. Parsley finished in sixth place in the 2000-01 World Cup competition. In October, she took the gold in the Verizon National Trials for the U.S. skeleton team. This season, after two World Cup races, she was in fifth place.


This member of the German women's skeleton team is in second place after two races on the World Cup tour. She took the World Cup silver medal last season, with a point total bettered only by Great Britain's Alex Coomber. In the 1999-2000 season, Hanzlik was ranked 13th overall. The previous season she won the World Cup with four gold medals. Hanzlik was born Dec. 30, 1975, in Schmalkalden, Germany, and lives in Herges-Hallenberg.


A resident of Salt Lake City, Gale may be the youngest competitor on the prestigious World Cup skeleton circuit. She was born in Ruidoso, N.M., on Aug. 10, 1980, and she attended Brighton High School. She placed third in the Verizon National Trials for the World Cup team, held in October. Last season she won two gold medals in the America's Cup circuit. This year, in the more prestigious World Cup events, she is tied for ninth place with Canadian Melissa Hollingsworth. The only U.S. woman who has done better so far is Lea Ann Parsley.



A member of Switzerland's team, he became a top slider in the early 1990s. Stahli took second in overall World Cup points in 1991-92 and in 1992-93. "However," says last February's program for events at the Bear Hollow track, "Stahli has competed sporadically in recent years." Stahli ended last season's World Cup tour in fifth place. This year, Stahli is on again, starting the season by holding down first place. He won the first two World Cup races in Knigssee, Germany, on Nov. 16, and Igls, Austria, on Nov. 21.


Born on Feb. 5, 1973, in Bridgeport, Conn., Soule will celebrate his 29th birthday earlier in the same month as the Salt Lake Winter Games. A resident of Trumbull, Conn., he attended the City College of San Francisco and the University of California at Berkeley. Soule was a stunt player in the Demi Moore film "G.I. Jane." Named skeleton rookie of the year in 1993, he won the national championships at Lake Placid in 1997. Last season he was in eighth place in World Cup standings. But after two races this year, Soule was in a good position, with a silver and a bronze, for second place overall.


A resident of Lake Placid, N.Y. — site of America's other bobsled/skeleton/luge track — Shea hopes for a real first in February. He would like to be the first American to be a third-generation Olympian in the Winter Games. His grandfather, Jack Shea, won two speedskating gold medals in the 1932 Lake Placid Games, while his father, Jim Shea Sr., was in the 1964 and 1972 Winter Games. Born June 10, 1963, in Hartford, Conn., Shea Jr. was fourth in the national trials in October. After two of seven World Cup races this season, he was tied for third with Phillippe Cavoret of France.


A resident of Park City, DeWitt won the World Cup last season. He was born April 24, 1967, in Syracuse, N.Y., and he went to the University of Pennsylvania but has lived in Utah for 11 years. He is a computer programmer, on leave while races continue. In October 2000, he set a push start record at Bear Hollow. DeWitt placed first in the Verizon National Trials this October but then got off to a slow start in the World Cup. After two events, he was in 16th place, the third-ranked American man on the tour.