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Local skiers are training for Olympic-level competition

Griffen graduated from North Warren High School in 2008, but during the winter months in grades 10 through 12, he was at the National Sports Academy, living in their dorms and studying North Warren curriculum in the Academy's classrooms - combining academics with dozens of hours per week careening down the slopes.

Despite the demands of the schedule, Beck has maintained honor roll status, as Griffen did when he was at the Academy.

Recently, the two have been competing in major races in Vermont, Canada, New Hampshire and Maine.

Two weeks ago, Beck was at Sugarloaf in Maine, where he was clocked at 77 miles per hour. Last week, he raced at Bristol Mountain, coming in second place among 80 competitors in Slalom and Super G events, qualifying for the Eastern Cup Finals coming up this week at Okemo. He's skied in about 20 major races so far this year, expecting to tally 30 total.

Griffen has skied with similar success, and he has also qualified for the prestigious Eastern Cup.

During the Vancouver Winter Olympics, Beck, Griffen and 80 or so other athletes at the Academy have been watching about a dozen NSA alumni including Andrew Wibrecht, who won a bronze medal in the Super G competition.

Other National Sports Academy athletes competing in Vancouver include biathlete Haley Johnson, skier Bill Demong, luger Chris Madzer, and Ski Jumper Nick Alexander.

Griffen said Monday he'd like to follow in their path.

"Competing in the Olympics is a goal of a lot of skiers," he said. "It's a hard goal to attain, but it's definitely in my sights."

Beck is looking at that possibility long-term, but in the meantime, his objective is to compete on a Division I college ski team. He's headed to St. Lawrence University this fall, on partial scholarship, to achieve this aim. Academically, Beck plans to concentrate on civil engineering studies.

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