Can sex sell ... Ping-Pong? In an attempt to generate more interest in the sport, table-tennis-equipment manufacturer Killerspin is touting Biljana (Biba) Golic, 27, as the Anna Kournikova of the game. Golic's skipping serves and skimpy skirts are a hit at pro table-tennis tournaments across the country; male fans sometimes wave signs proposing marriage at her. And her talent is for real: she was a two-time Yugoslav national champ in singles and mixed doubles, and after moving to the U.S. she won the 2004 national collegiate championship playing for Texas Wesleyan University. Golic downplays her potential role as the future face of table tennis. "I hope people enjoy the game--that's the most important thing," she says. "But if we can give them an extra something by looking good, there's nothing wrong with that."
She's only 15, but Kimmie Meissner is already known as the little girl with the big jump, making her a must-watch at the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, early next year. The Maryland teen, who started ballet at age 4 and danced in The Nutcracker before following her hockey-loving brothers onto the ice, leaped to a third-place finish at the U.S. national championships last year by landing a spectacular--and clean--triple Axel, the most difficult jump for women to execute. That made her only the third woman in the world (after Japan's Midori Ito and the U.S.'s infamous Tonya Harding) to land the jump. With new rules in place for the Winter Games designed to make judges more accountable for their scores, perhaps this time skaters like Meissner, and not the judging, will take center ice.
While Danica Patrick's performance at the Indianapolis 500 reinvigorated fan interest in open-wheel racing, NASCAR, the more popular circuit, is grooming a female phenom of its own. Erin Crocker, 24, started racing when she was 7 and last year became the first woman to win a grueling World of Outlaws sprint-car race. She then signed with legendary NASCAR crew chief Ray Evernham, who guided Jeff Gordon to three Winston Cup titles. Though Crocker has risen quickly through the stock-car ranks, Evernham won't rush his prized talent. He had scheduled Crocker to drive full time in next season's Busch Series, NASCAR's top minor-league circuit, but after crashes in her first two Busch starts, she will get more experience at a lower level. Expect to see her in the Nextel Cup Series before long. Although Crocker couldn't secure sponsorship to drive an Indy car, as did Patrick, she's happy where she is. "If you want to reach the big leagues," says Crocker, who graduated with an industrial and management engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic University, "NASCAR is the place to be."