Natasza Zurek, 23, of Vancouver is Canada's lone female Olympic snowboarder. She also has unique aspirations in Salt Lake City.
Billed a gold-medal favourite after she won a pre-Olympic competition in the halfpipe at Park City, Utah, where the Salt Lake City competition will take place, Zurek told the Globe she'd prefer to win silver or bronze, "because if you win the gold, there's too much media harassment and you'd be a national hero, and I don't want that. I want to be a snowboard hero, but not a national hero."
Zurek is a two-time Olympian. She went to the 1998 Nagano Games as a teenager with a seriously damaged knee, and admittedly intimidated. She had blown out her left knee ligament a month before the Olympics and never recovered.
Zurek has won three major halfpipe contests, including the past two U.S. Opens and the World Cup last March at Park City. She was on the podium again in December at Whistler, B.C., and took third place in the wild and competitive X-Games in early January.
Born in Zakopane, Poland, she has healed quickly from knee surgery last spring. After her victory in Park City, she tore up her right knee during a photo shoot in California and had to have the anterior cruciate ligament reattached.