New pairing successful really quick

RON MANZ -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

In a time of specialization in almost every field, it's refreshing to find people who undertake a challenge just because they want to enjoy it.

Such is the case with the '80s Ladies: Annica Collombin of Calgary and Darcy Martin of Invermere, who are the 2006 Canadian Women's Powder 8 Champions.

This pair of stay-at-home moms entered this year's national competition just to see what they could do.

Much to their own surprise they ended up winning and earning a berth in the World Powder 8 Championships that take place at Mike Wiegele's Heli-Ski in Blue River, B.C., April 8-15.

"We have been skiing together since about 1989," said Collombin, who was once a ski instructor in Kitzbuehl, Austria, and Winterpark, Colo., before coming to Canada in 1988.

"I had entered the Powder 8s about five times in the past with different partners and even my husband once, which was a mistake.

"This was Darcy's first time. I really only talked her into taking part with me two weeks before the nationals were held in Fernie."

Martin ski raced on Alberta's provincial team in the past and both she and Collombin are competitive water skiers.

Martin also is a competitive mountain bike racer.

"Darcy has competed in some Canada Cup events in mountain biking and I won the national women's 35-45 age group championship in slalom water skiing in 2004, so we are naturally pretty competitive in most everything we do," said Collombin.

"We both have two children, Darcy's are four and two and mine are eleven and nine.

"We both are over 40 but we still like to go out and have fun and this has been a blast for sure."

The pair not only won the Canadian title for 2006 but they also won the best dressed award at nationals thanks to their hand-me-down retro '80s gear they sported.

"We had borrowed golf jackets, vests and skis and we had duct-taped fur on our helmets and collars making us look pretty tacky, actually," laughs Collombin.

"After we won, we launched a campaign to try to raise sponsors to turn us into 21st century competitors.

"The response has been great. We now have complete new outfits from Karbon, matching goggles from Scott and other gear from Protec, Elan and Ryder.

"We will definitely look the part of national champions at worlds."

Collombin points out most of the other finallists at the world championships are either former national team skiers from their respective countries or Level 4 instructors.

The women's champions last year were identical twins from Austria in their mid-20s.

While they aren't necessarily intimidated by those facts, her and Martin have taken their title seriously and have spent a lot of time practising in hopes of producing a very respectable showing, if not another upset victory.

"I have heli-skied a few times in recent years but this will be Darcy's first time heli-skiing in about 20 years, I think," said Collombin.

"Resorts of the Canadian Rockies provided us with first trax access passes to Fernie so we could practice in untouched powder and we have spent a lot of time preparing ourselves as a result.

"The people who win at worlds get invited back to defend their title.

"That is our goal. Ultimately, we'll just do our best and try out best and see what happens."


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