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Local skiers are training for Olympic-level competition

The atmosphere there is likely to be different. At the National Sports Academy, the intense schedule includes monitored study periods at night, and "lights out" at 10:45 p.m.

Both Beck and Griffen started skiing at Gore Mountain, Beck beginning at age 6, Griffen at age 4 or 5, spending some time at Chestertown's modest Dynamite Hill in the early years.

Beck won a New York State Championship when he was 10, plus he won a top racing title in the Empire State Games.

Griffen has won medals in races all over the Northeast, and he placed in various races at the J2 Nationals in Oregon three years ago.

Griffen is now looking forward to racing in the North American Cup Races, while he's earning points toward the U.S. Nationals, set for March 20-23 at Whiteface Mountain. He said he's aiming to compete in several slaloms, Super G, Downhill and Super Combined races.

Griffen said he's also pursuing academics. He was recently accepted at Montana State University in Bozeman, and plans to enroll for the fall semester and ski race there this next winter.

"I'm really excited to get out there and see how things go," he said.

Beck showed similar enthusiasm for his skiing.

"I just love skiing, and it's fun to have a passion for something like this," he said. "I only have one life to live."

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