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Whistler skiers host Italian team

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Exchange builds skills, relationship among athletes

Whistler Mountain Ski Club racers at the K1 (age 11 to 12) and K2 (13 to 14) level are playing host to nine of their Italian counterparts from July 25 to Aug. 7 as part of an athlete exchange.

The kids train on the snow in the mornings and take part in dryland training exercises in the afternoon and evenings.

On Aug. 15, nine Whistler skiers will fly to Italy for one week to train on the glacier at Madonna di Campiglio and complete the exchange.

According to WMSC program director Leslie Clarke, the Whistler skiers that are billeting the Italian representatives are learning more than European racing techniques.

"There’s the language thing, but that’s not a problem for the kids – they get along in any language, and skiing is something they all have in common," says Clarke. "We encouraged them and all the billeting families to pick up an Italian phrase book beforehand because we don’t speak Italian and they don’t speak English, but we’re communicating."

The Whistler kids have also learned a few lessons about soccer, one of the dryland activities that has been scheduled for the Italian’s visit. Other activities included Ultimate, mountain biking, capture the flag, inline skating, rafting, and agility drills.

This is the first athlete exchange that the WMSC has ever held, and Clarke says that it has been so successful that the club will look into the possibility of arranging similar exchanges in the future.

"We did a good job of keeping the costs down by arranging billets for the athletes, and we’ve gotten great support from the club. Most people recognize this as a great opportunity," Clarke said.

The Italian technical delegate for the Whistler Cup race first suggested the idea to Clarke back in April. They e-mailed back and forth after the competition to organize the exchange.

"It’s great that it actually happened and so soon," says Clarke. "The kids are having a blast."

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