Local skiers in Down Under downhill 

While skiing is a distant memory for most Whistlerites, jammed into the back of the closet with the boots and triple-ply Gore-Tex clothing, three local skiers have made the trip to New Zealand to compete in a 16-hour endurance downhill for charity.

Roman Torn, Jamie Finlayson and Brian Bennett are Team Canada, racing in the second annual Compaq 50K of Coronet at the Coronet Peak ski area at Queenston, New Zealand. The event is a fund-raiser for Cure Kids child health research foundation.

The first objective of the race is to ski the full 50 kilometres; second is to complete as many circuits of the downhill course as possible. The winning team is the team with the most circuits of the course to its credit.

Men’s and women’s teams from the U.S.A., Australia, Japan, Germany, Slovenia, New Zealand and Norway are registered to compete, including a good selection of World Cup racers.

Torn himself was a downhiller on the Canadian Alpine Ski Team for six years, and competed for Canada in the 1992 Winter Olympics. He competed in the inaugural Compaq 50K last year with Chris Kent and Daimion Applegath, finishing second overall. He’s also been in the 24 Hours of Aspen team downhill.

Bennett is a national team prospect, and Finlayson a three-year member of the national junior team. All three skiers are Whistler locals and former members of the B.C. Ski Team.

You can follow the July 30-31 overnight race on the official Web site at www.compaq50k.co.nz. It starts at 6 p.m. New Zealand time, or 11 p.m. on July 29 in Whistler.

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