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    Wednesday, October 29, 1997

    Snowboarder's a rising star

    By ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun
      Her sport is fresh and new and exhilarating, and it will soon be Olympian in stature.
     Yet a conversation with Star of Peace Quinn, national teamer and Nagano Olympic Games hopeful, can't help but make its way to that name.
     No matter how she performs on a hill, she'll always be a Star.
     "It's unique, but I'm always hearing positive comments about it," says Quinn, 21, whose older brother, Free Spirit, is an extreme skier. "When my parents had us, they felt freedom was the most important thing in life, and peace was the second most important -- they believed you couldn't have one without the other."
     "I'm really honored my parents put such serious thought into our names."
     Snowboarding, which makes its Olympic debut in Nagano as a full medal sport, is serious stuff to Quinn, who calls Rupert, Que. (just north of Wakefield) home. That is, when she isn't off in Whistler, B.C., one of the Canadian meccas of this relatively new -- but already immensely popular -- winter sport.
     She's among a group of 10 national teamers hoping to land one of four women's berths on the Canadian squad for Nagano. It's a long way from Quinn's humble beginnings in the sport five years ago -- she and her friends got started on a makeshift jump beside a highway in bitterly cold Fort McMurray, Alta., where her father, Peter, worked for two years as a pipe designer.
     Soon enough, she was hooked, to the point that she now spends the winter months in Whistler. Quinn even taught her father to snowboard, and both are certified as instructors who preach strongly about safe riding.
     "I moved (to Whistler) because I love snowboarding," said Quinn, an Edmonton native. "I think that's why I'm good at it -- I do it just because I love it."
     Nagano, obviously, is a big deal for Quinn and snowboarding itself, which has gained a huge following in Japan and in Europe.
     "It gives a lot more credibility to the sport," she said. "Obviously, we're very stoked to go (to the Olympics). It's the one event we've seen on TV all our lives growing up. It's neat that now we're going to be a part of it."
     Whether Quinn makes it to the Games will depend on a series of qualification trials, including World Cup events at Whistler and Mont-St. Anne, Que. And there's no doubt that Quinn, who carried the flame during the 1988 Calgary Olympics torch relay, dearly wants to help snowboarding makes its Games debut in Japan.
     "Obviously, it excites me," she said of the Nagano Games. "I'm a very, very proud Canadian kid, and the whole thought of representing Canada totally enthralls me. If it was the Canadian knitting team, I'd be excited about it."