Racer making parents proud

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:20 AM ET

There are days when Brigitte Acton must feel like she was born with a pair of ski boots buckled on her feet.

True, skiing footwear does not come in sizes small enough to snuggle around an infant's tiny tootsies. But in Acton's case, the thrill of carving a path down a snow-covered mountain at top speed was in her blood at a young age.

Acton's parents were competitive skiers. Her dad, Gord Acton, was a teammate of Crazy Canuck Ken Read on the Canadian B team three decades ago. Her mother, Diane Pratte, competed for Canada at the 1972 Winter Olympic Games in Sapporo, Japan.

MAKING HER MARK

No wonder Brigitte, 19, has evolved into one of the top young racers in the country.

"She's got the genes," Read, the president of Alpine Canada, said last night.

She's got skill, too, judging by her success in what has been a whirlwind two-week span.

On Feb. 27, Acton finished second in the giant slalom at the FIS World Junior Championship in Italy.

Less than 24 hours later, she stepped up to the World Cup stage. Going head to head against the best female ski racers in the world, she placed an impressive 10th in the combined event, which requires runs in slalom and downhill.

Not bad for a teenager.

"I don't have much experience in the downhill, so that was great," Acton said yesterday. "And being able to compete on the same (downhill) course they are using at the Olympics next winter was sweet."

It was the highlight of her first year on the World Cup tour. There should be many more to come, especially with the Turin Olympics less than a year away.

In the meantime, there still is work to do.

Because she did not qualify for this week's World Cup finals in Europe, she returned to Canada to compete.

It was a successful homecoming for the Sault Ste. Marie native, who finished second in the final slalom race of the NorAm Cup season this week at Craigleith Ski Club in Collingwood. That result allowed her to end the season tied for the NorAm slalom championship and earned her an automatic berth on the World Cup team for '05-'06

Acton placed third yesterday in a NorAm giant slalom event at Georgian Peaks. The competition ends today.

"I definitely love my job every day," she said, moments after completing a successful run. "The season in Europe was great but at least my family gets to watch me here."

Don't be surprised if they offer up a few helpful pointers.


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