They're just a few months removed from the Paralympics, but Canada's para-alpine ski team isn't taking the summer off.
With the world championships taking place in its own backyard at Panorama in 2015, the team is looking to build upon its impressive performance in Sochi.
Many of the team's skiers are spending their offseason here in Whistler, staying at the Athletes' Centre and using the High-Performance Centre gym operated by Canadian Sport Institute-Pacific. It's the second year in a row that the para-alpine squad has made the resort its summer base, and the move seemed to pay off last year: The team's eight medals accounted for half of Canada's total medal haul in Sochi.
Mac Marcoux, who captured three of those medals, said spending time in Whistler last summer played a key role in his Sochi success, as he noticed big differences in his skiing after getting back on snow.
"I don't know how I would have done on some of those speed courses this year because of how rough they were," said Marcoux, who claimed gold in the visually impaired men's GS, and bronze in the super-G and downhill.
"It's ridiculous how much you actually feel and see (the difference). I didn't think I'd notice that much, but when you come into a turn, you feel like you can really power through it."
Strength and conditioning coach Scott Mundy has been setting up daily, individual workouts with each skier to help them get prepared for the coming winter. Erin Latimer, who is spending her first full summer in Whistler with the team, said having Mundy and most of the team together in one spot creates a great atmosphere for training.
"When you're at this gym with Scott and the team, you have so much more motivation and everyone pushes each other that much harder," said Latimer, who had three top-10 finishes in women's standing competition at her first Paralympics in March.
"It's tough to find that same level of motivation when you're at home to work out as hard... It doesn't really get much better."
The prospect of winning a world championship medal in Canada isn't hurting the team's motivation level, either.
"Definitely after the Games, you feel a little lost," said Marcoux. "But having world championships in Canada is something that we really want to try and do the best we can at... You want to be there being in the top, best shape you can possibly be in."
One skier who is not attending any of the summer sessions in Whistler is Caleb Brousseau, who is retiring from racing. The 25-year-old Terrace native, who has lived in Whistler for the past few years while pursuing his skiing career, won a bronze medal in men's sitting super-G in Sochi this year.
"I got pretty close to the top of my game," he said. "I know I could go a lot further with it, but I want to move along in life."
Brousseau will be going to school to become certified as an acupuncture therapist. He will also marry fellow Paralympian Andrea Dziewior on Saturday, July 26.
Brousseau, who injured himself in a 2007 snowboarding accident, went from learning to sit-ski to a Paralympic podium in just seven years. He attributed his quick development to his time spent in Whistler.
"If I wasn't in Whistler, I wouldn't have gotten a bronze. It has so much to offer for an athlete," said Brousseau, adding that he'll continue to spend time around Whistler in the future.
"It's been a lot of fun."
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