Alta States 

Julia Murray - making lemonade out of life's lemons

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'Play your part. Therein lies your greatness.'

William Shakespeare

It's not easy being an elite athlete. Fun maybe. Educational for sure. But easy? Never.

Consider the case of Julia Murray. I don't think there's a Whistler resident out there who didn't follow the young skicross racer's star-crossed Olympic campaign in 2010 without a twinge of sympathetic pain or a stray thought about the madness of competition at this level.

Remember? Barely weeks before the big event, the 20-year old national team member tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) so badly that the team doctors knew she would need surgery to repair the knee. But the question remained. Would she? Or wouldn't she?

The Canadian media ate it up like candy at Halloween. The daughter of a Crazy Canuck. Smart, strong and fast. And now hurt. Would she pull out of the Games at this late date? Or would she damn the torpedoes and go for the glory. What a story!

But few people were thinking about Julia the person back then. I remember watching all the action and worrying that the hype would lead her to the wrong decision. After all, she had a long life ahead of her. Was competing at the Olympic Games worth putting her body in such jeopardy? I mean, it's not like skicross is a gentle sport...

Everyone here knows what happened in February. Julia gritted her teeth, toughed it out and made it across the finish line in one piece. But it wasn't the glorious moment she'd envisioned during those long hours of training. Still, she'd reached one of the goals she'd always dreamed about. She was an Olympic athlete.

But wait a second. Maybe a quick flashback may be in order here. This is how it all began:

Julia never looked fully at her ease as a ski racer. Maybe it was the long shadow cast by her dad, Crazy Canuck Dave Murray that made it hard for her to enjoy the sport. Maybe it's just that she had other talents. After all, her mother, Stephanie Sloan was three-time World Freestyle Skiing Champion back in the mid 1970's. Maybe she just hadn't found her thing yet.

Whatever. When Julia discovered skicross racing in the spring of 2007, it fit her talents perfectly. Combining her dance and gymnastic background with her many years of ski-racing experience, Murray was able to slide into the new sport like an old pro at a Sunday ball game. Suddenly the veterans on the race circuit were looking at this rookie with newfound respect.

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