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Young American Voisin expects slopestyle surprise

By Philip O'Connor

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Maggie Voisin, the youngest member of the United States Winter Olympics team, has predicted "some surprises" in the women's slopestyle competition at Sochi.

Voisin, who turned 15 on December 14, is part of a U.S. freestyle ski team that includes her close friend, roommate and fellow teenager Julia Krass.

"I think we're going to see some surprises, but I'm going to focus on myself and what I'm doing, and not worry about the other girls," Voisin, from Whitefish, Montana, told Reuters after practice on Wednesday at Rosa Khutor, where the slopestyle event will be held.

Despite her inexperience, Voisin fielded questions about American chances with the diplomacy of a veteran.

"Definitely the U.S. is strong, Canada is strong," she said. "But every girl has her own tricks that stand out and girls are going to throw down here - it is the Olympics, and everyone wants to do their best."

She and Krass, 16, were added to the U.S. team only in late January, but neither of them seemed fazed by the challenge.

"I think overall you just have to do well," Voisin said. "You have to be clean on everything - your rails, your grabs, spins, making sure you land good.

"It's going to be similar to the X Games but I think girls are going to be throwing down harder than ever."

Voisin and Krass share a room in Park City, Utah, where the United States Skiing Association (USSA) is based, and when they both made the Olympic team, they saw no reason to change that.

"We're roommates in Park City and we're roommates here too - after skiing we're always hanging out with each other," Krass, from Hanover, New Hampshire, said.

"We've gone to the arcade, just hung out in the room, sometimes we go to the gym, do some biking, the dining hall, just hanging out and relaxing.

"We're like best friends - we've been friends for like four years now. It's awesome having each other to be with."

Whether they make the medals or not, Krass is enjoying the experience.

"I'm so young, hopefully I'll have another (Olympics), but I just want to experience everything I can at this point, and just take it all in," she said.

Krass, though, emphasized that she and Voisin are not part of the four-person American team just to have fun or make up the numbers: "We're really serious athletes - we have so much fun off the hill, but we're totally serious when it comes down to it."

Having a friend along helps, and Krass is delighted that she and Voisin made the team. She said: "Just having someone, just being your age, it's really easy to ski with each other and push each other, knowing that you're right there with each other, so I'm really happy we both made it together."

(Editing by Stephen Wood) nL5N0LA3GA

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