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Pipeline to the Games

Ski halfpipe team hosts camp in Whistler to train for upcoming qualifiers

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The pressure has stepped up a notch for the athletes, but they're still confident.

Roz Groenewoud has been one of Canada's top halfpipe athletes in recent years and last year came away with the Association of Freeskiing Professionals overall halfpipe title. While it's rare to see her finish off the podium, her focus coming into this year was a little broader.

"For me in Breckenridge the goal was to get that first podium, have one of those down and be able to look forward knowing I've already solidified at least one of them," she said.

"So in a little way my focus at Breck wasn't an all-or-nothing approach, it wasn't to (try to) win and potentially fall on both runs. It was very calculated, and a reasonably safe approach.

"This year every podium counts more than in the past in many ways. As opposed to 'Oh, I got third, whatever, moving on,' it kind of makes me feel more confident going into future events to have already done that, while in the past I might have shrugged it off."

At the airbag, Groenwoude was focusing more on air than adding new tricks — something she already has, but has a hard time maintaining from her first hit to her last in the halfpipe.

"I've always been good on straight airs, (mine) is usually one of the highest in the women's event, but I've had some trouble maintaining that air through my run. With Trennon and (assistant coach) Marc (McDonell), that's been a huge focus for me this season."

The atmosphere on the team is positive, she said, despite the loss of teammate and her close friend Sarah Burke as a result of a training accident in January 2012. If anything, she said the tragedy brought them closer together in some ways. "I think especially with Megan (Gunning), Keltie (Hansen) and I," she said. "I wasn't very close with them at the beginning of last year because they were new to the team and Sarah was definitely the woman I was closest with of all my teammates. After Sarah passed away, it really kind of glued us together. Megan, Keltie and I went through it all together, we found out about it at the same time and it definitely made us extremely close."

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