Athletes We'd Love to See in the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue
In addition to ridiculously stunning super models that grace its pages, each year the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition also features some of the most beautiful female athletes in the world. Danica Patrick, Jennie Finch, Maria Sharapova and Leryn Franco have all appeared in the magazine in recent years.
Many have argued that the swimsuit edition has lost its relevance in the Internet age, but the magazine's unique ability to get otherwise relatively wholesome professional athletes to strip down into a teeny bikini is reason enough alone to keep it relevant.
Sticking with the 'wholesome' theme, here are 15 athletes we'd like to see in the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.
15. Jonelle Filigno, Canadian Women's Soccer
Canadian soccer star Jonelle Filigno is a member of the Canadian national team and a junior at Rutgers University in New Jersey. At just 21-years-old, Filigno is already a standout player, and her star is on the rise.
14. Tanith Belbin, U.S. Ice Dancing
Canadian-American ice dancer Tanith Belbin is a five-time U.S. champion and four-time World medalist. In 2010, Belbin announced her retirement from professional skating and plans to pursue a career in broadcasting.
13. Shannon McIntosh, IndyCar Racing
American auto racing driver Shannon McIntosh has been captivated by racing since age 5, and today, at age 22, she is a rising star in the racing world. In 2011, McIntosh was the only female competitor in the US F2000 National Championship and the only American female in The Road to Indy.
12. Laura Vikmanis, Cincinnati Bengals Cheerleader
At 42-years-old, Laura Vikmanis might be the oldest cheerleader in the NFL, but she's living proof that age is just a number. After a divorce in her 30's, Vikmanis decided to reinvent herself and persue her dream of becoming a Bengals cheerleader. Her story attracted plenty of attention and in early 2011, New Line Cinema picked up the rights to Vikmanis' story and plan to produce a feature film based on her life.
11. Julia Mancuso, U.S. Alpine Skiing
Three-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso is one of the most successful female alpine skiers in American history. Mancuso has dismissed rumors of a feud with fellow skier Lindsey Vonn, but the two have been unofficially competing for the title of hottest female American skier for years.
10. Allison Stokke, Pole Vaulting
University of California pole-vaulter Allison Stokke has been a bona fide sensation since photos of her competing for Cal first hit the web in 2008. Stokke has kept a relatively low-profile given the circumstances. Stokke is still competing for Cal and training in hopes of competing at the 2012 Olympics in London.
9. Stephanie Rice, Australian Women's Swimming
At just 23-years-old, Australian swimming star Stephanie Rice is already one of the best female swimmers in the world. Rice currently holds the world record in the 400m women's individual medley, and she racked up three gold medals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Rice is currently rehabbing from a shoulder injury and training for the upcoming Olympics in London.
8. Jamie Andeson, Women's Snowboarding
American snowboarder Jamie Anderson is just 21-years-old, but she's already been competing professionally for six years. Anderson is arguably the best female Slopestyle rider in the world and has medaled in the event at the winter X Games every year since 2006 (3 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze).
7. Angela Rypien, LFL Seattle Mist
Angela Rypien is the 21-year-old daughter of retired Super Bowl winning quarterback Mark Rypien. In 2011, she decided to follow in her father's footsteps by trying out for the Lingerie Football League's Seattle Mist. The 6'0 tall Rypien had no problem making the team, and even played the quarterback position in her first year in the league.
6. Kiira Korpi, Finnish Women's Figure Skating
Finnish figure skater Kiira Korpi has achieved moderate success in her professional career, but she has received more attention for her striking good looks than her skating performances. The Grace Kelly look-alike sustained a foot injury in 2011, but has since recovered and is training in hopes of representing her native Finland at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
5. Lolo Jones, U.S. Women's Track & Field
While at LSU, Lolo Jones garnered 11 All-Ameican honors and was favored to win the 100m hurdles event at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing—a stumble over the final hurdle led to a disappointing seventh place finish. Barring injury, Jones will likely compete for Team USA at the 2012 Olympics in London, and put the memory of that missed hurdle behind her once and for all.
4. Alana Blanchard, Women's Surfing
American surfer Alana Blanchard practically lives in a swimsuit, it's a wonder she hasn't been featured in the magazine already. At just 21-years-old, Blanchard is already considered one of the best and most recognizable female surfers in the world.
3. Nastia Liukin, U.S. Women's Gymnastics
Stunning blonde American gymnast Nastia Liukin has been competing at a national level since she was 12-years-old. Today she's 22-years-old and tied for the second-highest number of World Championship medals. At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Liukin won five medals and is currently training in hopes of competing for Team USA at the 2012 Olympics in London.
2. Dresdynn & Schuyler, Houston Texans Cheerleaders
Dresdynn and Schuyler are one of two sets of twins who are cheerleaders for the Houston Texans. When they aren't on the Texans' sidelines, the 20-year-old twins are both students and trained dancers who work part-time as choreographers.
1. Alex Morgan, U.S. Women's Soccer
American soccer star Alex Morgan is a forward for the Western New York Flash and a member of the U.S. women's national team. At 21-years-old, Morgan was the youngest player on the USA's roster at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup.
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