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    Thursday, January 15, 1998

    Lively legacy

    By BILL DAVIDSON -- Calgary Sun
      One of the best things about the Olympics is what the Games leave behind, witness the Calgary show a decade ago.
     Great facilities such as the Saddledome, COP, the Oval, Nakiska and the Canmore Nordic Centre.
     And some of the legacies are alive.
     Meet Sara Renner of Canmore.
     She was 11 years young when the cross-country craze really hit Canmore.
     Sara, now 21, recently qualified for Canada's cross-country team and is bound for Nagano and next month's Olympics.
     "I really wasn't into cross-country skiing at the time of the Olympics," says Renner, "but with the facilities after, it was a real easy thing to do."
     Sara has never been to Japan, but "I've heard the course is really, really difficult."
     The Canmore Nordic Centre isn't exactly a walk in the park. In fact, 10 years ago it was one of the top tracks in the world.
     "Canmore kind of set the stage for new courses," says Renner. "Things have definitely gotten harder.
     "The thing about Japan, and this is just off rumors, is it's really short, steep, uphill. It's not a flowing course -- Canmore has more long, gradual uphills."
     Sara, who is taking a general science correspondence course and lists the five-km skate race as her favorite, will be competing in the nationals this weekend at Canmore.
     After the nationals, the team will train on the Haig Glacier above Canmore, "and then it's off to Japan."
     Going to Nagano is one thing; getting to the podium is quite another. Renner is hoping to finish in the top half of the field of 70 or 80 Olympic competitors.
     Canada's top female is Beckie Scott of Vermilion, who like all team members lives and trains at Canmore.
     "She made a breakthrough this year at a World Cup when she finished eighth. That's our best result in about 10 years. It's an inspiration to know that if a teammate does it, it's possible for you to do it, too."
     Renner plans on competing "as long as I'm having fun and I'm challenged. You do have to sacrifice a lot. The most important thing is that you enjoy it."
     When all is said and done, Renner would love to run a backcountry lodge. Blame that on genes -- her parents own Mount Assiniboine Lodge, a 28-km trek into the wilds.
     "I love the mountains," says Renner. "I'll never live in the city, it'll be something outside."
     Renner has obviously spent plenty of time in the backcountry, but has never been bothered by avalanches.
     "It's pretty bad right now because it snowed so much," says Sara before offering these four words of advice: "Stick to the trees."