Local skiers are training for Olympic-level competition

LAKE PLACID - With many millions of viewers tuned into the heart-stopping action of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver this week, two teenagers from northern Warren County are watching the skiing events with keen personal interest.

Andrew Beck of Lake George and Aaron Griffen of Chestertown are taking a close look at the Olympic downhill ski racers, examining the competition in detail, evaluating the skiers' techniques.

Beck and Griffen are members of the ski teams at the National Sports Academy in Lake Placid, which prepares athletes for the Olympic games and other world-class competition in winter sports.

During the Olympics, however, Beck and Griffen haven't had much spare time to cheer on the 17 Olympic athletes that are recent graduates of the National Sports Academy, because they've been training hard, they said in interviews this week.

Both have qualified for the Eastern Cup Finals at Okemo Mountain, set for next week, and considering their racing records, they should fare well.

Both have been committed to ski racing for years.

Beck, 17-year-old son of Dave and Debbie Beck of Lake George, is a high school senior at the National Sports Academy. He's now completing his fourth full school-year at the institution.

His daily winter weekday regimen includes skiing from 9 a.m. to noon on the slopes of Whiteface, then intense academic studies from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and traveling for skiing competition most weekends. Any spare hours are spent building muscles in the Academy's weight rooms, Beck said.

"My schedule is very, very intense," he said. "There's no free time or television for me during ski season."

Griffen, 19, son of Susan Griffen of Chestertown, experienced the same daunting regimen for three years at the National Sports Academy up through spring 2008. He's finished with high school, and now training with the Sports Academy team, aiming for the Olympics.

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