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Big Skates To Take After

A Russian is favored to win the women's figure skating gold medal at the Winter Games in Torino, Italy this week, but American Emily Hughes already considers herself a big winner.

The 17-year-old was chosen last week to replace the injured Michelle Kwan. And, as if she needed any more pressure, Emily's big sister, Sarah, was the gold medalist at the last Winter Olympics, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

There are varying opinions in Tornio on whether Emily can match Sarah's feat, reportsTracy Smith. But, no matter what you think of her skating, you have to give Emily for her attitude.

For Emily, says Smith, the fight to get out from under Sarah's shadow seemed to begin even before Emily was named an Olympian.

"I'm definitely a different person than Sarah is," she told a news conference in Torino, "but, you know, she's my sister, and everybody's gonna compare us sooner or later and, you know, I don't think it's that bad being compared to an Olympic gold medalist."

Some observers feel Emily suffers by comparison, Smith points out.

By the time she went to the Olympics, Sarah had already medaled in a senior-level international event. This will be Emily's first. But Emily placed third in nationals, just like Sarah.

"She's a great skater," says men's figure skater Johnny Weir. "I think she's better than Sarah, personally."

Weir knows how brutal the pressure can be: "Especially with Emily, I know how difficult it is to get a call late and go to a competition and for it to be the Olympic Games and to be replacing Michelle Kwan is a huge thing. And I got to see her practice a little bit today, and she looks awesome.

"She's a great skater, a great person, very different from her sister. She's her own person. And that's what she should be respected as, not as a little kid sister of a past Olympic champion."

If Emily is feeling the pressure, we'll never know, Smith says: She has a reputation for keeping everything so close to the vest that her family calls her "the CIA."