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Alta States

The Skicross factor

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So what does this have to do with Whistler? Simple. If I were the program director of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, I would jump immediately into the fray and develop a new skicross program for young racers who were either tired of, or disillusioned by, conventional alpine racing. Forget the FIS — or whether the new discipline is freestyle or alpine. Get a system going. Teach kids how to race head-to-head. Show them how to handle jumps and whoop-de-dos and off-camber turns. Hire skicross veterans like Davey Barr and Aleisha Cline and Roman Torn and Pete Smart to develop special clinics for budding ski gladiators.

At the very least, all that high-tension, high-speed training is bound to make them better alpine racers…

Besides, no one really cares what discipline it is that delivers a gold medal for Canada. Whether speed skating or alpine skiing — short-track or skicross — Canadian Olympic medal winners are all given the same amount of attention and respect in the mainstream media. And that’s the way it should be.

Which begs the question: now that Skicross is a bona fide Olympic discipline and will be contested in the upcoming Games, what are Canadians doing to make sure we have contenders on the slopes of Cypress Mountain come February 2010?

From all indications it appears that Whistler is chock-a-block full of young up-and-coming talent right now. Whether in extreme big mountain skiing, or New School halfpipe, ski racing (yeah Michael and Britt Janyk!) or Big Air, a new generation of Whistlerites is imposing its style on the world stage. Now is the time to create a compelling, progressive skicross program for young athletes to test their mettle in this new discipline. And what better place to establish such a program than at Whistler? The opportunities are tremendous. The payouts could be enormous. But it’s not going to happen all by itself.

It doesn’t matter who does it. But somebody has to step up and take responsibility for creating tomorrow’s skicross champions. Somebody has to take a leadership role in putting together a viable road map for 2010. Otherwise, we face the very likely possibility of standing on the sidelines watching yet another medal ceremony with no Canadians on the podium…

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