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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.


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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