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Russia
Brian Cazeneuve
February 06, 2006
The erstwhile Big Red Machine is still a dynamo in the Olympics' most graceful sport
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February 06, 2006

Russia

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The erstwhile Big Red Machine is still a dynamo in the Olympics' most graceful sport

Irina Slutskaya, FIGURE SKATING
An Olympic cofavorite four years ago, Slutskaya (above) blew the landing of a triple flip in her long program and ended up with silver. In the last three years she has had to overcome vasculitis, an affliction that causes painful inflammation of blood vessels, and the strain of her mother's kidney disease. But she is the reigning world champion and could become the oldest women's figure skating gold medalist since at least 1908. (She turns 27 on Feb. 9, the day before the opening ceremonies.)

Evgeni Plushenko, FIGURE SKATING
An Olympic cofavorite four years ago, he fell on a quadruple toe loop in his short program and ended up with silver. Now 23, Plushenko (right) is easily the class of the sport and could become the fourth straight Russian (and fifth straight Soviet-born skater) to win men's gold. He has the seven highest scores on record under the sport's new Code of Points judging system.

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