People.com Celebrity Going for Gold! Meet eight leading female figure skaters, including Americans Sasha Cohen, Emily Hughes and Kimmie Meissner, as they compete for Olympic glory. By Caryn Midler By People Staff Published on February 14, 2006 04:00 PM Share Tweet Pin Email 01 of 08 SASHA COHEN Patrik Giardino Country: USAAge: 21Where she ranks: No. 1 in the U.S.; No. 2 in the worldWhy we'll watch: She's got the look. The 95-lb. California native helped design her Gypsy-style outfit for her short program and a gold number for the long. "I want a dress that makes me feel special and absolutely gorgeous," says Cohen. Snowboarder Shaun White already has his eye on her. "I'm hoping Sasha Cohen digs gold medalists," he told NBC. 02 of 08 IRINA SLUTSKAYA Oleg Naumov/ITAR-TASS/Landov; Koji Sasahara/AP Country: RussiaAge: 27Where she ranks: No. 1 in the worldWhy we'll watch: A dramatic comeback. The top contender, who suffers from a heart condition, was sidelined in the 2003-04 season; lately, she's been caring for mom Natalya, who's awaiting a kidney transplant. Nobody "had to come back so many times and through so many hard moments like I did," she said last year. If she wins, Slutskaya, will be the oldest ladies' champ since 1908. 03 of 08 EMILY HUGHES Paul Hawthorne/Getty; Amy Sancetta/AP Country: USAAge: 17Where she ranks: No. 3 in the U.S.Why we'll watch: In a storybook twist. New York native Hughes got called to duty after medalist Michelle Kwan dropped out of the games – but she had the foresight to stay in shape between taking the SATs. "She's been killing herself," says sister Sarah, who won the gold in 2002. "So she's prepared." 04 of 08 CAROLINA KOSTNER DANIEL DAL ZENNARO/EPA/Landov; MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Country: ItalyAge: 19Where she ranks: No. 3 in the worldWhy we'll watch: Ice in the veins. Mom Patrizia was a nationally ranked skater who was coached by Kostner's grandmother; pop Erwin is a former Olympic hockey player; and cousin Isolde was one of Italy's greatest Alpine skiers. Plus, Kostner has heart: She'll auction off her Roberto Cavalli-designed costume for charity. 05 of 08 SHIZUKA ARAKAWA Landov Country: JapanAge: 24Where she ranks: No. 9 in the worldWhy we'll watch: Grace under pressure. The 5'6" skater – who, at 5, just "wanted to wear the pretty costumes" – became Japan's first world champ in a decade when she bested Sasha Cohen in '04. But her real moment in the sun: making her Olympic debut in '98 in front of the Emperor and Empress of Japan (she came in 13th). 06 of 08 JOANNIE ROCHETTE Paul Chiasson/AP; Guang Niu/Getty Country: CanadaAge: 20Where she ranks: No. 11 in the worldWhy we'll watch: It's personal. The Quebec native is dedicating her routine to her resilient mom, who suffered through the death of her first child, a son, before Joannie was born. Her long program song choice is "L'Hymne à l'amour" ("Hymn to love"). "For all (my parents have) done ... I feel that I HAVE to skate to this," Joannie says in her online journal. 07 of 08 FUMIE SUGURI JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty; Paul Chiasson/AP Country: JapanAge: 25Where she ranks: No. 5 in the worldWhy we'll watch: She brings the drama. "She is an actress," '92 silver medalist Midori Ito has said of Suguri, the oldest on Japan's powerhouse team of skaters. "Her performance draws us into her world." And it's an emotional one: Suguri recently burst into tears after her solid program at the Japanese championships secured her fifth national title. 08 of 08 KIMMIE MEISSNER Rick Bowmer/AP; Carlo Allegri/Getty Country: USAAge: 17Where she ranks: No. 2 in the U.S.Why we'll watch: It's her first time. Meissner, a Maryland native, will make her Olympic debut in Turin and, despite a few butterflies, says she's "excited and ready to go." The youngest of four (and the only daughter), Meissner first hit the ice at age 6 and has never looked back. "I can't see myself doing anything other than skating."