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Ski legends strut their stuff in support of Canadian alpine championships and bid to host 2010 Olympic Winter Games.



Two of Canada’s skiing legends got together this week on Whistler Mountain’s slopes to support Canada’s national skiers and showcase the proposed site of the downhill should the 2010 Winter Olympics come to B.C.

"These racers who are racing here now will be able to come back in 2010 and win medals," said Steve Podborski, still the only non-European to win the men’s World Cup downhill title.

"And you cannot just ski a course at this level or calibre and win it the first time around, you need to get a few runs in here and then away you go, so that is why it is so important to have these races here."

Whistler Mountain is hosting the Pontiac GMC Canadian Championships, which continue through the coming week.

Hosting this level of event on Whistler also proves to the International Olympic Committee that Whistler and Blackcomb can offer excellent services and venues for international competition.

Podborski, one of the original Crazy Canucks, spent 10 years on the downhill circuit, won a bronze medal at the 1980 Olympics and was number one in the world for more than two years.

He understands the importance of getting to know a course and putting on a good show.

"These events will be on the Olympic courses," said Podborski, fresh from skiing down Whistler Mountain’s slopes.

"It proves the course and it shows we can hold races.

"When the (International Olympic Committee) evaluation commission was here (March 2-5) they were already setting up the men’s downhill and the downhill race for women and so this is an active race for competitions."

Podborski took the IOC evaluation commission chairman and other members of the team skiing while they were here.

"They loved the skiing," he said.

"They loved the courses. They could see the potential of the women’s downhill on Franz’s and they know that the men’s downhill is fabulous.

"The biggest trouble I had with those guys was getting them off the hill and back into the tour."

Nancy Greene Raine, who retired at age 24 after competing in three Olympics and winning two consecutive World Cup titles, has kept close tabs on the Pontiac Cup competitions all season.

"It is very impressive to see the progress that is being made at the provincial team level how they are closing the gap," said Greene Raine, who helped develop Blackcomb Mountain before taking her expertise to Sun Peaks ski resort.

"And our athletes at the national and international level are just doing super well.

"I would say the bulk of our team for 2010 is racing today, racing this weekend.

"(The Games are) seven years away so if you look at 16,18, and 20 year olds today they will be just in their prime seven years from now and they are all here."

Greene Raine was also impressed at the great job the volunteers were doing keeping the course in good shape in very adverse weather conditions.

"There is no doubt in my mind that the human resources will be here to put on a fantastic Games," said Greene Raine

"The venues are great and in February when the Olympics are scheduled the normal snow conditions are just perfect."