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Raine returns to Whistler as Canada’s Olympic Ambassador

Ski champion to be cheering on all Canadian athletes



There's little doubt Senator Nancy Greene Raine knows where she wants to be during the 2010 Winter Games.

And that is: skis on, goggles down, on the racecourse helping the Canadians get ready to race their hearts out.

"If I had my druthers I would go up and do the inspection with the (alpine) team and work my way into the VIP area that way!" said 66-year-old Raine from her Sun Peaks home this week.

Instead, she'll be cheering on all Canadian athletes from the sidelines as Canada's newly-named Olympic Ambassador for the 2010 Games, a role she is excited to take on, on behalf of Canada.

In many ways, there is a certain sense of life coming full circle for Raine.

The two-time Olympic medalist and two-time World Cup champion alpine skier has close ties to Whistler, host of the alpine ski events at the 2010 Games. It is a place she was instrumental in developing with her husband Al Raine in the 1970s and '80s and now she's here to see it fulfill its destiny as Olympic host.

This is what Whistler was born to do.

In many ways, being Canada's Olympic Ambassador for the 2010 Games is a role Raine was meant to do. Not only is she Canada's most decorated ski racer in history, she was voted Canada's Female Athlete of the 20 th Century. Then last year she took her seat in the Canadian Senate.

Her newest appointment was announced late last week and Raine said she would be based out of Whistler, where her children and grandchildren live, and commute to Vancouver for certain functions.

"I'm really happy to have an official role to play in hosting the Games," she said.

"I see my role as being a supporter of the athletes, being a supporter of the volunteers and the effort that everybody has put in to staging the event and on behalf of all Canadians, cheering for the athletes and cheering for everybody's efforts."

It doesn't have a job description as such but she sees herself at the competition venues liaising with VIPs and media and attending official functions.

She knows the memories of her giant slalom gold medal win and her silver medal in slalom at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, France will come flooding back on the side of the Dave Murray Downhill in Whistler.

And though there's no doubt that she'll be pulling for the Canadian girls, it's U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn she most relates to.

"For me, watching the giant slalom, I guess I'll be watching what happens with Lindsey Vonn because she's been dominating and I could put myself in her shoes pretty easy," said Raine. "When I went in (at the '68 Games) I had been dominating."

But Grenoble in '68, where there was barely a stadium to speak of, is a far cry from Whistler in 2010.

"It's so much bigger now," she said of the Games.

Raine arrives in Whistler on Feb. 12, the day the 2010 Olympics begin.

Before that she will be running with the Olympic Torch in Kamloops on Jan. 29.



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