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Ten female athletes who could stand out at the Winter Olympics

Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Olympics

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Wondering which athletes will become stars at the 2018 Winter Olympics? Here are 10 athletes to keep an eye on in the women's competitions.

Alina Zagitova, figure skating, Olympic Athlete from Russia

Zagitova, 15, won the Grand Prix Final and European championships this season, ending teammate Evgenia Medvedeva's reign in the European competition. Zagitova, the 2017 world junior champion, boldly places her jumps late in her long program to earn extra points. With Medvedeva recovering from a fractured foot, Zagitova could be the gold medal favorite.

Sui Wenjing, pairs skating, China

Nicknamed "the martyr" for her willingness to try risky moves in practice and not complain if she fell, she and partner Han Cong won the world title last year. The technical difficulty of their programs is dazzling, and they've pulled off quadruple twist lifts and throw quadruple salchows in competition. They've been together more than 10 years, a constancy that's lamentably rare among American pairs skaters.

U.S. women's hockey team

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Team USA won the first gold medal awarded in women's hockey, at the 1998 Nagano Games, but archrival Canada won the next four. This U.S. team, coached by former Kings goaltender Robb Stauber, is the swiftest yet and boasts a mobile defense, but the U.S women had difficulty scoring goals in exhibition games. Look out for Canada forward Marie-Philip Poulin, who scored twice against the U.S. in the 2010 gold medal game and twice in the U.S.-Canada rematch at Sochi in 2014.

Marit Bjoergen, cross-country skiing, Norway

A versatile and mentally strong skier who is known for strong finishes, Bjoergen is poised to become the all-time top Olympic medalist among female Winter Games athletes. She has won 10, as did retired cross-country skiers Raisa Smetanina of the Soviet Union and Unified Team, and Italy's Stefania Belmondo. Bjoergen, 37, can also pass the all-time Winter Olympics medal record of 13, held by Norwegian biathlon legend Ole Einar Bjoerndalen.

Kaillie Humphries, bobsled, Canada

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