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US Snowboarder Takes Family Sport to Olympics

American snowboarder Hannah Teeter may be a newcomer to the Olympics next February in Italy. But she comes from a family of snowboarders and has been weaving up and down snow-covered courses since she could stand. Hannah Teeter could be one of the rising stars in the women's halfpipe event at the Turin Olympics.

Hannah Teeter, 18, is the youngest member of her family. Since age eight, she has been trying to keep up with the rest of her siblings, and that included snowboarding.

"I have four older brothers," she said. "And I am the youngest. So I was always into what they were doing and always just wanted to be a part of the boys. So I kind of developed this, I guess, fearless attitude. And then they started riding [snowboards]. And I got into it. So it has always been a family sport."

Teeter's drive to keep up with her older brothers built a fearless attitude and the drive to come up with aerial moves and spins that were higher and more difficult than what her brothers were trying on their snowboards. Teeter captured the championship at the 2002 Junior Worlds and continued to be on top in successive national and international competitions.

In September at the 2006 World Cup season opener in Chile, Teeter claimed an unprecedented two wins on the same day. The event also gave U.S. snowboarders their first look at the revised judging format that will be used in February at the Turin Games. Athletes will be judged on overall impression by all six judges instead of each judge scoring a different component, such as rotations and amplitude of jumps in the halfpipe course.

Hannah Teeter has her own perspective of what the judges will be looking at during the Olympics.

"They look for style," she explained. "And I do not know, whoever is just throwing down that day. Who is going big, who is smooth and who just looks really, really good looking."

Teeter's youthful resilience has been evident in this physically demanding sport. At a World Cup event in Japan last year, another competitor landed on Teeter while she was waiting on the edge of the five-meter-tall halfpipe course. Although she fractured a few bones in her back, Teeter returned to competition quickly with hard work and training.

Hannah Teeter feels at home while traveling, because she says her teammates and the training staff are a close-knit group.

"The guys [teammates] are pretty much my on-the-road family," she noted. "I will leave home and then go to all these places. And we all do it together. We are always hanging out. We are cheering for each other on. We are training together. And occasionally helping each other."

They hope to help each other much more in Turin when Olympic medals are on the line.