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March 24, 2010 > Despite results, local Olympian still proud

Despite results, local Olympian still proud

By David J. Nicolas
Photos By courtesy of Ann-Marie Devine

Ani Serebrakian knew something was missing at Cal Poly Pomona. Despite its many NCAA Division II accolades and the warm Southern California weather, the college didn't seem to be the right fit for the Marin Catholic High School graduate. Her family was miles away in the Bay Area, but more importantly, there was no snow.

Serebrakian transferred to the University of San Francisco for weekend mountain trips to Squaw Valley USA in Lake Tahoe where she skis, speeding down white hills at almost 45 miles an hour. The 21-year-old had fleeting thoughts about taking her love of skiing to the Olympics.

During this year's 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, she did.

"I was not only excited about the competition, but I was also excited to meet different athletes," Serebrakian said. "We all had one thing in common-we were all there for the love of our sport."

Two weeks before the Olympic Games, Serebrakian was tapped to represent her parents' country of Armenia in the technical women's giant slalom and women's slalom races. Despite not finishing or placing in her races because of disqualifications, Serebrakian knew she achieved her goals.

"I just wanted to do my best. I was doing great," she said.

Serebrakian didn't finish her races because she lifted her skis above a height limit, an illegal maneuver.

Her resilient attitude toward the Vancouver results roots to her many years of competitive skiing, a sport her father introduced to her when she was 2 years old. Despite difficulties from foreign mountain terrain, foggy weather and her results, Serebrakian felt she skied well.

"In my competitions, I win or I fall. It's part of ski racing. You go all out and you may win or you may crash. You can't hold back."

Serebrakian tried soccer and tennis as a kid, but they never gave her a "jolt" like skiing did. Her father, who skied competitively abroad and in the U.S., was quick to get Ani and her brother on the slopes. And by 5 years old, Ani started racing competitively.

Although she had years of experience, a rigorous practice regimen and personal trainer, Serebrakian still felt unprepared for the Games. But this anxiety didn't hit her until moments after being introduced in the opening ceremony, surrounded by fellow athletes and spectators-she was there to represent her country.

"It was me putting pressure on myself. I wanted to do well for my country, I wanted to make people proud," she said.

"I could've tried out for the U.S. team, but it was more important for me to represent my culture," she said about joining the Armenian national team. "I wanted to represent my family."

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