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Monday, 14 January, 2002, 11:26 GMT

Chilled training

BBC Sport Online looks at the laid-back fitness attitude of Olympic snowboarders.

Whereas most Olympic hopefuls are busy honing their ultra fit bodies, snowboarders take a much more relaxed view.

They do not have the punishing fitness schedules like skiers and speed skaters, instead preferring to try out other sports to keep themselves trim.

You might find boarders mountain biking or hiking, or wakeboarding or surfing during the off season, but they are hardly ever in the gym.

American snowboarder Rosey Fletcher believes this is because snowboarders need stamina - not strength.

The 2001 parallel giant slalom world silver medallist said: "We used to train like ski racers, emphasising weight lifting.

"But our coaches soon realised that in our sport you don't have to be that fit.

"We have to have stamina rather than strength."

Fletcher has built up her stamina by racing up and down mountain-resort maintenance trails near her home in Alaska.

France's Karine Ruby also has an unconventional regime.

The 1998 Olympic giant slalom champion climbs mountains near her home in Chamonix as well as taking part in canyoning.

She said: "I love extreme sports.

"When I am not racing, I enjoy canyoning very much.

"It is a test, a fitness challenge."

American half-pipe star Tommy Czeschin likes to take to the water to stay in shape.

Having fun

He said: "I do wakeboarding, some surfing and skateboarding - anything that helps with balancing on a board sideways!"

Britain's Lesley McKenna admitted snowboarding is a lot more chilled than other winter sports.

She said: "I think that snowboarders will be one of the few groups of athletes at the Games having real fun.

"Of course everyone will be trying to do their best run ever but will be just as happy to be putting on a good show and riding what is probably going to be one of the best pipes ever made.

"Everyone will be happy for whoever wins and for me the best thing that can happen is if everyone there has the best run in their life."

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