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Ski cross athletes to get World Cup debut

Marielle Thompson, Stanislas Rey joining national team

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Last year, 2010-2011, was his first full season racing ski cross.

How much did he enjoy it? So much that he built his own training ramp in his backyard.

"With alpine I was doing mostly lower body and core work, but now I'm doing more upper body stuff so I can be more explosive out of the start - because that's really the key. I built my own start gate in my yard so I could train starts, with a gate that I welded with a friend. That will help this season, hopefully."

It's a 35 degree ramp with the same plastic inserts they use at the water ramps.

Rey's goal is to rank in the top-20 overall by the end of the season, as well as to qualify for the world championships and the X Games. But he's patient - the ultimate goal from the start is to represent Canada in the 2014 Winter Games.

"I wish I started a couple of years earlier so I could have tried to make it for 2010 in Vancouver, but Sochi is the next step and I'm trying to work towards that."

Rey considers ski cross to be the ultimate in skiing, combining racing and jumps and other obstacles into a single event. The fact you race alongside others adds a twist.

"It's pretty exciting to have people around you, I wasn't used to that at the beginning," he said. "It always makes it different, you're either trying to find a way to get around people or to stay in front, so there's a lot going on. In ski racing, it was just about going around gates and making a certain number of turns."

While a few years seems like a short time to make the national team in any sport, Rey's background as a ski racer goes back more than a decade. And he's taking the opportunity seriously - all summer, when he was still a B.C. Ski Cross team athlete, he would work construction all day, then go to the gym. He rode his mountain bike four times a week and went to every Toonie Ride. And, of course, he used his backyard ramp to practice his starts.

For Marielle Thompson, who turned 18 this year, it was a surprise to find out that she would be joining the team on the World Cup circuit.

"I didn't really know for sure if I was going to be running in the World Cup until last week, so that was kind of surprising, but all in all I really wanted to go up to the next level from Nor-Am and FIS - it just happened a bit quicker than I imagined."