Age: 33 Specs: 6 feet, 172 pounds
Home: Nannestad, Norway
THE CASE: In the oxygen-deprived nightmare that is nordic skiing, it helps to be a freak of nature. Thanks to an off-the-charts VO2 max of 96, a resting heart rate of 45, anda hypermotivated training ethic, Daehlie has captured 12 Olympic medals—more than any other winter Olympian. Perhaps he's best known, however, for his histrionic come-from-behind finishes. After kicking past Swede Niklas Jonsson in the 50k freestyle in the 1998 Nagano Games, he collapsed at the tape and didn't stand for two hours. Melodramatic showmanship say some, but hey, what do you expect from a guy wearing pastel tights?
SECOND OPINION: "He's the complete package," says U.S. cross-country ski team member Justin Wadsworth. "He's got the genetic gift, the work ethic, and he can suffer better than anyone he races against."
MOST HARROWING MOMENT: Getting outsprinted on his home turf by Italian Silvio Fauner in front of 100,000 stunned spectators while racing the anchor leg of the men's 4x10k relay at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.
WHAT'S NEXT: Barring catastrophe, Daehlie will compete in his fourth winter Olympics, in Salt Lake City. Should he win more medals, he may propel his record well out of reach.