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Ski jumpers take off in Calgary

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As part of their stated goal of developing Olympic champions for 2010, the Telus Whistler Sport Centre recently sent four Whistler youths to Calgary to participate in a ski jump training session at the Ski Jump Training Centre at Canada Olympic Park.

The four athletes were identified through a local talent search, and then sent to Calgary for a second look.

"The Telus Whistler Sport Centre had planned to host a ski jumping recruitment camp here in Whistler at the end of the season, but with so much going on here on the slopes we didn’t have enough skiers sign up ahead of time to allow us to build a site," said Todd Allison, the general manager of the centre.

"We realized that the four who expressed an interest in the sport should still have the chance to earn their wings, so with the support of LegaciesNow, CODA (Canadian Olympic Development Association), and Ski Jumping Canada we created the opportunity for these athletes."

The group included Maddy, 12, and Ben Podborski, 14, Ian Morrison, 12, and Hamish Davidson. All are local athletes, and none of them have tried ski jumping before last Friday, June 20.

"The kids did very well and enjoyed the camp," said Joel Knopff, the assistant National Nordic Combined Team coach. "Even in rainy conditions all of the kids jumped well. Hamish had the take off’s mastered and crushed it each time."

‘Crushing a takeoff’ is a ski jumping term that refers to an athletes ability to push down with maximum force at the right time to maximize their flight.

The athletes got in three days of jumping with Knopff and Damion Carson, Canada’s top Nordic Combined athlete and a former coach of the National Nordic Combined team.

"It’s too early to tell if one of these four kids will be on the podium in 2010, but we hope to have athletes from Canada and B.C. on the podium," said John Heilig, the program director for Ski Jumping Canada.

The Whistler jumpers stayed at the Olympic Training Centre at Canada Olympic Park, and were able to use facilities that were built for the 1998 Olympics.

"We hope to provide more opportunities for B.C. athletes to excel in the 2010 Games whether they are here or elsewhere. Win or lose on July 2, we still hope to win in 2010,"said Allison.

Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined are hosting two sets of camps this summer for youth aged 12 to 16. For more information on these camps, call 403-247-5956 and ask about the Gnarly Nordic Program.

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