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AMERICAN MOSAIC - Figure Skating: Now It Is Little Sister Emily's Turn on Olympic Ice

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HOST: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English. I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

We hear some Grammy award winning music …

Answer a question about the government's space agency …

And report about some Winter Olympic athletes.

Olympic Athletes

HOST: The Winter Olympic Games are being played in Turin, Italy until February twenty-sixth. About two thousand six hundred athletes from more than eighty countries are taking part. More than two hundred American athletes are competing in the Winter Games. Barbara Klein tells us about three of them.

BARBARA KLEIN: American figure skater Emily Hughes will be competing in her first Winter Olympic Games. But she almost missed the Olympics completely. Emily Hughes finished third at the United States National Figure Skating Championship last month. The three top women skaters at that competition usually represent the United States at the Olympics.

Emily Hughes warms up for her first practice in Turin on Friday; the women's figure skating competition begins Tuesday
Emily Hughes warms up for her first practice in Turin on Friday; the women's figure skating competition begins Tuesday

But figure skating champion Michelle Kwan was injured and did not compete in the United States nationals. She asked the United States Olympic Committee to permit her to compete in Turin. The officials agreed. But last Sunday, Michelle Kwan withdrew from the Games because of another injury. So Emily Hughes will get her chance at the Winter Olympics.

Emily Hughes is seventeen years old. Her older sister Sarah won the figure skating competition at the Winter Olympics four years ago in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Another American athlete at the Winter Games is World Cup ski champion Bode Miller. He won two second place silver medals at the last Winter Games four years ago.

The media have called Bode Miller a rebel. Last month, he said on a television show that he competed in a ski race after drinking too much alcohol the night before. Miller does not travel or stay with the other members of the United States ski team. He travels and lives in his own motor home.

Some experts have called him the best and most exciting ski racer in the world. But so far he has disappointed his fans by failing to win a medal in two ski events this week. He competes again next week.

A third American athlete at the Olympics has an unusual nickname: the Flying Tomato. He is nineteen-year-old Shaun White. His nickname is the result of having long red hair and being able to fly on a board over the snow. On Sunday, he won the first place gold medal in the men's halfpipe snowboarding event.

Shaun White had already won the Superpipe competition at the Winter X Games last month. He told reporters in Turin that that X Games was great but winning at the Olympics was special because it involves the whole world.

NASA

HOST: Our VOA listener question this week comes from Nairobi, Kenya. Ezekiel Owino asks about the United States government agency known as NASA.

NASA is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It has many jobs involving flight. NASA's aeronautics teams work to improve aircraft travel. But it is best known as the agency that plans, supervises and organizes the exploration of space. Thousands of scientists, engineers and others work for NASA at ten major centers throughout the country. These include the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Lyndon Johnson Space Center in Texas and the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. NASA headquarters are in Washington, D.C.

NASA began in nineteen fifty-eight. Its first big program was Project Mercury. That was an effort to learn if humans could survive in space. Next came Project Gemini, which used spacecraft big enough for only two astronauts. Later, Project Apollo aimed to explore the moon. The fight of Apollo Eleven put the first humans on the moon in nineteen sixty-nine.

Since the nineteen eighties, NASA has flown space shuttles. Astronauts from the United States and other nations have used these to do research and to build the International Space Station. NASA also has launched a number of important scientific spacecraft such as Pioneer, Voyager and Cassini. They have explored the planets and other areas of the solar system. NASA has sent several spacecraft to investigate the planet Mars. And the Hubble Space Telescope has helped scientists discover much new information about the universe.

NASA says its jobs are to explore, discover and seek to understand. It says its goal is to answer these questions. What is out there in space? How do we get there? What will we find? And what can we learn that will make life better here on Earth?

Grammy Winners

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences presented its yearly Grammy Awards last Wednesday, February eighth. Faith Lapidus tells us about the awards and plays some of the winning songs.

FAITH LAPIDUS: The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences was organized by recording artists, songwriters and technicians. Its highest award recognizes excellent recordings and the people who make them. The award is called the Grammy.

The Grammy is a small a statue that is shaped like the early record player called a gramophone. The word "Grammy" is a short way of saying gramophone.

Members of the Academy vote to choose the best recordings of the year. The Irish rock band U2 won the Grammy for writing the best song of the year. The song also won the award for best performance by a rock vocal duo or group. It is called "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own".

Bono, the lead singer of U2, accepts the Grammy for album of the year
Bono, the lead singer of U2, accepts the Grammy for album of the year

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U2 also won three other Grammies this year. It won best rock album and album of the year for "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb". And it won best rock song for "City of Blinding Lights".

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The Grammy award for record of the year went to the group Green Day. We leave you now with Green Day's award winning song, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams".

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