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Ski cross athletes to get World Cup debut

Marielle Thompson, Stanislas Rey joining national team

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Thompson got her start while ski racing with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club. She took part in the local Atomic Cross series hosted by Whistler Blackcomb (now the Whistler Blackcomb Ski and Snowboard Cross presented by Powerade) and really enjoyed it.

"It was something new," she said. "I thought I'd try it in my first year, and didn't know then that I'd continue to like it. I think that's because it's a combination of everything - it's jumping, it's turning, and it's the extra adrenaline of having three people beside me. To me it's the most fun you can have on skis because it combines everything."

Thompson has avoided setting any goals for the season, and says she won't event think about that until she has her first World Cup event under her belt.

"I have absolutely no idea how I'm going to do," she said. "It would be nice to see how I stack up in that first race, and see how I can improve from there."

Like Rey she worked all summer at a family cabin, but fit in training wherever she could. The last six weeks have been a whirlwind, with training at the Whistler High Performance Centre and travelling around the world to ski on snow.

"Up until recently I've been as far away as the Caribbean for a holiday. Then this year - the last month and a half - I've already gone to South America and Europe, both for the first time. It's pretty different."

As well as a background in ski racing, Thompson was a competitive figure skater growing up - something she says has helped her in ski cross, from feeling comfortable on edge to launching into the air.

"It's helped a lot with the gliding and being comfortable in the air," she said. "Also, skating is kind of scary because you have a lot of people watching you and you're being judged. There are a lot of people watching ski cross as well.

"I think skating is definitely a good cross-training sport. My brother used to figure skate when he was younger, and now he's on the B.C. Ski Team. It helped both of us, I'd say."

Thompson just graduated from high school in June, but decided to postpone post-secondary school to focus on racing. She's taking a few high school courses to improve her grades, and says she might start going to school part-time next summer to go along with racing ski cross.

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