There are only two rookies joining the 13-member national ski cross team this year, and both of them are from Whistler.
Last week, Canada Ski Cross confirmed that Marielle Thompson and Stanislas Rey would be joining the team for the 2010-2011 season. Both grew up in Whistler and are graduates of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club. Both joined the B.C. Ski Cross team and national development program hosted at the Whistler Mountain Ski Club the past two seasons. Both dominated at the Nor-Am Cup level, and both won the overall Nor-Am ski cross title.
This season they'll be joining the national team, which is arguably the best in the world. Every veteran athlete on the team has won at least one World Cup medal, and both the men's and women's team swept podiums last year. Whistler's Ashleigh McIvor won the Olympic gold medal while Chris DelBosco placed fourth for the men after a crash in the finals.
For Rey, 22, it's an advantage to be able to train with the best in the world.
"The team is super-competitive, and it's really good to have one of the best teams in the world," he said. "In the world, we have three girls in the top five, and the guys are all in the top 15 or 20 in the world, while the second-best is DelBosco. It's cool to train with them and try to chase them down, because I know if I can get close to them I can do well in World Cups too. And I've been learning a lot because they've all been doing this for a while, too."
Rey has already travelled with the team, filling in as a team ski technician for the first part of last season. He would tune the team's practice skis. For the second half of the season he stayed closer to home and raced in the Nor-Am circuit.
Rey thought he would be a ski racer, but a few years ago started to reconsider his options.
"One of my coaches told me to try it out and see if I liked it," he said. "I was having a rough year on the alpine side, so he told me to give it a shot. In 2008, I went to nationals at Red Mountain, and thought it was fun. But I still wanted to do something in Alpine so I went back for one more year. I didn't earn any points (at the start of the season) and then I broke my thumbs in January. So I took a break, and did a couple of ski cross races at the end of the year and just got hooked."