Robbie Dixon has two alter egos. One is Whitesnake, a lovable cowboy who was born during a hot dog-eating contest at the Calgary Stampede. Another is Gary. Every time Dixon has a bad day, goes off course or crashes, that's Gary. When he hit his head on a door last month after slipping on snow, missing a number of World Cup starts, that was pure Gary.
And then there's Robbie.
Long-time teammate and year-round roommate Manuel Osborne-Paradis was asked if there might be a fourth Robbie out there, a serious person when the spotlight is off.
"Actually, he's pretty goofy all the time," says Osborne-Paradis. "He's a lot of fun to hang out with because he's always joking around. I think we're the same in that way, but that doesn't mean we're not learning. It's like a class clown thing - you might joke around all the time and people might think you're not taking things seriously, but deep down you're taking in what you need to know and you're learning just as much as the person sitting quietly in the corner."
Dixon is definitely learning.
He raced his first World Cup in November 2007 and was a DNF. He had some solid results but didn't manage to crack the top 30. He stopped by a Nor-Am Cup race in Maine in January that winter and earned a bronze medal in giant slalom, giving him a boost of confidence as he headed back to Europe.
Then it happened. Robbie managed a sixth place finish in the super G on the notorious Kitzbuehel course. He cracked the top 30 in a downhill event in Chamonix, France to earn his first points in that discipline. At the national championships that year he was fourth in downhill and fifth in super G.
He never looked back. He has been consistently working his way up the ranks - top 30 finishes in 2008, top 10s in 2009. He has four top 10 finishes this season.
Now, on the eve of his first Olympic appearance, on his home course, Dixon is a legitimate contender.
"I actually learn a lot from Robbie because he's the best skier on the team by far, he has the best technique of anyone - he just has a couple of things to learn about racing," says Osborne-Paradis. "Tech-wise both Robbie and Erik (Guay) are better skiers than me, but nobody knows that because right now I'm the guy on the podium.
"His time will come. There's something small missing, a little speck somewhere and I'm not sure where it is; I can't put my finger on it. But as soon as Robbie figures it out he will be on the podium every week. Nobody is too worried about Robbie."