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'The pressure is never off when your goal is to win'

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In the fall, Read announced the creation of the Podium 2010 program, a national initiative that would give athletes the financial, technical and human resources they need to succeed, starting with the youngest athletes. Fundraising has improved and Alpine Canada recently picked up CIBC as a new title sponsor.

"We have about $10 million in place, and I would like to see another three to four million to put our program on par with the rest of the world. You always have to be innovating and improving if you want to keep up to the best," Read said.

At the world championships, Read realized just how far the team has come this year after talking to coaches from other countries and watching how the crowd reacts to the Canadians.

"They follow the sport quite closely over there, and the consensus is that we’re going to be one tough team to beat. They’re definitely taking notice," Read said.

The Canadian Alpine Ski Team is one of the youngest on the circuit, with an average age of 22.6 for the men and 21.2 for the women. While many of the skiers are new to the World Cup, they were among the top racers in Europa Cup and Nor Am Cup competitions, and know how to win.

With the season wrapping up next month, Read said the goal is to qualify as many athletes as possible for the World Cup finals – you need to be in the top-25 in a discipline to qualify – and to finish in the top 10 of the Nation’s Cup.

On the first score, the Canadians are looking pretty good with several weeks of competitions left in the regular World Up season.

For the men, Thomas Grandi of Banff is currently ranked 20 th overall in the slalom and 17 th in the giant slalom. The other male athletes have yet to qualify, but many are just one good result away from a spot.

On the women’s team, Melanie Turgeon of Quebec City is currently 13 th in the downhill and 11 th in the super G. Genevieve Simard of Val-Morin, Quebec, is 22 nd in the giant slalom, 18 th in super-G and 13 th in combined. Whistler’s Britt Janyk is 36 th in the slalom, and 19 th in the giant slalom. Nanaimo’s Allison Forsyth is 17 th in the giant slalom. Emily Brydon of Fernie is 43 rd in the downhill and 24 th in the super G.

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