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Ashleigh McIvor loves the tree skiing in Whistler

Ashleigh McIvor in the medal ceremony for the women's ski cross freestyle skiing competition at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

DYLAN MARTINEZ/REUTERS

What's your favourite hill?

Whistler's got a bit of everything, from green runs right up to gnarly chutes that even scare people like me. I love the tree skiing, and I love the dense snowpack. All my friends live here and cool people come to visit here.

What's the most daring run?

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Pointing down the Dave Murray downhill can be daring, depending on the conditions! Especially since there is no netting like you see during a downhill race there, and you never know if another skier is going to swerve out in front of you. I guess that makes it more like ski-cross.

What hill scares you the most?

Engelberg, Switzerland. It's like heli-skiing, but with lift access. There are all sorts of unmarked crevasses and cliffs, and no avy [avalanche]control.

Where do you avoid?

I avoid the high alpine [above the treeline]when it's foggy, and I avoid the base, if it's wet and slushy. I also avoid moguls. Guess this goes back to loving tree skiing - you have much better depth perception in the trees.

Where's your favourite backcountry?

A zone called Sproat, just across the valley from Whistler Blackcomb. It has sick sled-ski laps, old-growth forest with little cliffs everywhere. My favourite bike trail for summertime is off that same peak.

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Your favourite après-ski?

The GLC or Dusty's, depending on which mountain I've been skiing. I always run into friends at both of those spots.

Where was your a-ha moment, when you realized, "I want to be an Olympian"?

I wasn't really one of those kids who always dreamed of being an Olympian. I always just followed my heart and the Olympic dream kind of found me. So it wasn't a sudden "a-ha," it was a case of knowing there was a chance but not wanting to get my hopes up. Once they put it in, I knew I wanted to represent Canada.

Final word

I can't really explain why I love it so much. It's a lifestyle. The feeling I get when I'm ripping on my skis or my bike is what I live for. My Olympic success will hopefully just continue to make it possible to do what I love for longer, without struggling with working a real job while trying to train in the off-season.

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This interview has been edited and condensed.

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