Games nod has Read jumping for joy

By WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

Stefan Read comes from a family of ski standouts.

When it comes to ski jumping, though, the nephew of former Crazy Canuck alpine racer Ken Read is flying solo.

"Everybody asks about my uncle Ken -- you know, 'What has he told you? Has he helped you out? Is he your mentor?' " Stefan said.

"The sport is in our family, so it's kind of a normal thing. We go to Christmas dinner and all my dad and my uncle talk about is skiing.

"(My uncle) gives me some tips, but I don't think there's too much extra pressure."

Stefan Read, 22, headlines the host ski jumping squad for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, which was revealed Thursday at Canada Olympic Park. Read will be joined in Whistler by high school students MacKenzie Boyd-Clowes, Trevor Morrice and Eric Mitchell, all based in Calgary.

Just like his uncles Ken and Jim, both alpine skiers, Stefan will be making his second trip to the five-ring circus. During the 2006 Torino Games, Read finished 30th in the individual large hill (120-metre) and 42nd in the individual normal hill (90-metre).

His advice for the youngsters? Treat it like any other competition.

Uh, sure, if you say so.

"You want to treat it like every other event, but you know it's not any other event," Boyd-Clowes said.

"We have a very young, inexperienced team, but we've jumped on those hills in Whistler more than anyone else, so maybe we'll have some kind of home-hill advantage."

While Read and his ski jumping buddies aren't viewed as medal threats and are unlikely to become household names come February, they're expecting plenty of support on their home turf.

"It'll be indescribable," Morrice said. "It'll be pretty crazy. People will be cheering for us on the streets -- people that we don't even know. It'll be an experience, for sure."

WES.GILBERTSON@SUNMEDIA.CA

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