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International idol

Rock star Olympians from around the globe drive the home fans bonkers

Updated: February 12, 2010, 3:52 PM ET
By Lindsay Berra and Dale Brauner | ESPN The Magazine
Jens-Olrich Koch/Getty ImagesHelena Jonsson won the Svenska Dagbladet Gold Medal, awarded for Sweden's most significant sports achievement.

This article appears in the Feb. 22 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Shaun White, Lindsey Vonn and Johnny Weir may be getting all the pre-Olympic hype in the U.S. But other countries have their own Games heroes. Here's a few.

HELENA JOHNSSON
25, Sweden
Biathlon

PAST MEDALS: None
PAST FACT Mom Eva put Helena on skis as a toddler; dad Hans gave her an air rifle at 10.
HYPE Won World Cup in 2009 and leads again this season.
FANFARE With three medals from worlds, Jonsson topped French Open finalist Robin Soderling for 2009's Svenska Dagbladet Gold Medal, given annually for Sweden's most significant sports achievement.


BENJAMIN RAICH
31, Austria
Alpine Skiing: slalom, GS, Super G, combined

PAST MEDALS: 2 Gold, 2 Bronze
PAST FACT Nickname: Der Blitz aus Pitz, or the Lightning Bolt From Pitztal.
HYPE Won World Cup overall in 2006 and leads this season.
FANFARE Austria is Alpine-crazy, which helps explain the Benni Raich Brucke, a 310-foot bridge in Raich's hometown. It celebrates his success on skis and his love of bungee jumping.


Lindsay Berra is an avid CrossFitter and a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on twitter @lindsayberra.