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What it takes: To be an athlete

7 questions with Cassidy Gray

Cassidy Gray at the starting block at the NOR-AM Cup at Panorama.

Competing on the world stage takes a special kind of athlete. Cassidy Gray — a Panorama Mountain Resort local — knows all about it, competing on the World Cup circuit and most recently as a member of Team Canada at the Beijing Olympics.

The following is a Q & A with the second-year Canadian alpine team athlete about what inspires her and her racing.

Q: How did you first get into racing?

A: My siblings and I started in a ski program just so my parents could have a little more free time on the weekends. I don’t know if they realized how intensely we would get into it. After a year, we all wanted to do more. They definitely regretted it after a bit — I don’t think they realized how intense we would get about racing.

Q: What did you like so much about racing?

A: I love being outside. Being in the mountains while going fast is so fun. I’m a huge adrenaline junkie, so being outside, going fast and feeling everything come together as you go around the gates was something I just fell in love with.

Q: What does your average day during the ski season look like now?

A: On an average training day, we’ll train in the mornings. So, I get up and do about a half hour of warming up, go and get some breakfast, then drive to the ski hill. Once we’re at the hill we’ll do two runs to warm up, and then go do a course inspection. Then we start skiing and do anywhere from six to 10 runs. Then we go back home and eat lunch and I usually do a 30-minute spin on the bike, before we have some dry land training or agility in the afternoon.

Q: What does your competition season look like?

A: We spend 90% of our season on the road. In Europe they’ll go home after every World Cup for a few months and then start training again. For us we don’t see home for like three or four months at a time. I speak English and French, so when we’re at home it’s nice to be able to speak to everybody, but on the road it’s not often that we speak the same language – like if we’re in Italy, or Germany, or Austria. I always feel bad because I can’t speak to the people in the language of the country.

Q: Do you find it difficult to spend most of your season on the road?

A: The lows feel a lot lower when you’re away from home, but I think that it makes us more grateful for what we’re able to do. We get to come and see these places we wouldn’t ever go to otherwise. We get to build all this strength and independence being away from home so much.

I’m so excited to have the Junior World’s at home because I get to sleep in my own bed and spend time with my family. It’ll be so different from anything I’ve experienced on the World Cup so far.

Q: What motivates you when it’s hard?

A: I think progress is so addicting. Watching yourself become better and better and see yourself do things that weren’t possible a year ago is a huge motivator for me. I also really try to think about the type of person I looked up to when I was little — the type of person I would’ve needed for myself — and I try to be that for other people.

Q: Where do you see yourself in the future?

A: I want to have fun in life, I race because I live for the grind — I like putting myself through hell. Every day is the mental battle of a lifetime, and I like that. It’s not going to happen this year or next year, but I want to be a regular contender in World Cups. I want to be on the podium frequently, bringing the best skier out of myself that I can, and I think that could be somebody winning World Cups.

Answers have been edited for clarity.

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