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Three Invermere skiers competing in Olympics

Three local women will be representing Canada next week in the Beijing Olympics.

Courtney Hoffos is competing in ski cross, while Amelia Smart and Cassidy Gray are both competing in alpine.

Manny Osborne-Paradis, a former Olympic skier from Invermere, said having three locals make the team is a huge accomplishment.

“To have three Olympians in a small community like ours going to the same games is probably not that common,” added Osborne-Paradis.

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“I think that it’s an amazing achievement and shows how strong the ski racing community is in our valley.”

He said Invermere has become one of the places to come to for skiers.

“People are starting to realize that it probably is the epicentre of ski racing in Canada.”

This year, Alpine Canada is taking more female skiers than men, which Osborne-Paradis said really shows how strong the competition has gotten in recent years.

“It’s pretty cool that Alpine Canada is taking a larger women contingent than men this year. It just shows how strong the women’s programs are in our country.”

Cassidy Gray won’t just be competing in the Olympics, but will also get to ski on the world stage right in her backyard.

In March, the world junior championships will be hosted by Panorama.

Osborne-Paradis said Gray is the favourite to win.

“For her to be able to come back to a race course where she lives is huge,” said Osborne-Paradis.

“It’s a huge advantage to have raced on that track on multiple occasions and training with her local club.”

He said having the competition in Invermere also means a lot to youth in the community.

“It puts it into a context that you can be from anywhere and make it to these high international competitions,” he said.

“By hosting one it brings everyone to this region and offers a really great perspective on dreams that lots of the young ski racers or other youth from the community can acknowledge and watch.”

The Olympic opening ceremony is on Feb. 4 and the world junior championship runs from March 1-11.

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