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Forsyth encourages para-alpine athletes

Team’s dryland training camp is last time they will be in Whistler before Paralympics



Every workout counts. Every moment visualizing the course counts. Every minute on skis will count for the men and women of Canada's para-alpine team as they countdown to the race of their lives in 2010.

At least, that's the message from retired skier Allison Forsyth.

Forsyth knows what's it's like to be a ski racer just eight months prior to the biggest race in the world. She knows about the ever-building nerves, about the gathering pressure of the competition.

And Forsyth knows, perhaps more than anyone else, how important every day of training is between now and then.

"You guys are all within eight months of your Games," she told para-alpine team members who were in Whistler for a dryland training camp last week.

"You have a very, very small window... Right now, capitalize on that window of opportunity."

For the self-described retired athlete "jonesing for competition," she sees opportunities ripe for the taking for these Canadian athletes.

On the World Cup circuit for 12 years as a member of the Canadian alpine team, Forsyth is a five-time World Cup medalist. It's a feat, she admits, that was only possible because of her commitment to dryland training.

"I do, and I did, lack talent," said Forsyth, who moved to Whistler when she was 14 years old to capitalize on the ski program, which was then run out of the Pemberton High School. "I never came by that at all naturally."

She also knew that she would never have the skiing background and the inborn confidence of the Austrians and the Swiss, who were blowing past her that first year on the World Cup. It was 1997 and she was the only girl racing technical events for Canada at the time, placing 35 th or 36 th .

"I never made a second run," she said. "It was very discouraging."

So Forsyth made a choice. She would be the fittest skier in the world, she decided. And so it began.

With her singular focus, Forsyth hit the gym at the University of Calgary at 8 a.m. every morning. Three hours of training was followed with a few hours of study, and then back to the gym for another two to three hours.

Then she would get to her car, go home, eat and go to bed. Every day was like this.

"At the time I didn't realize how fit I was becoming," she told the para-alpine team members. And then she beat all the Calgary Flames in a fitness test. The training was beginning to pay off.