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February 16, 2006

Olympic snowboard team dependent on Polish engineer

BARDONECCHIA, Italy

If not for a construction engineer who learned to build snow half-pipes by hand and then quit his job to mentor his daughter and nephews in his favourite sport, half of the Polish snowboarding squad might never have made it to the Olympics.

These Olympics double as a family trip for the Ligocki clan, as they’re known in their home country.

Wladyslaw Ligocki is the coach. His daughter Paulina, 21, competes in half-pipe; nephew Mateusz, 23, is entered in half-pipe and snowboardcross, and nephew Michal, 20, and Mateusz’s brother, competes in half-pipe.

“We don’t have big mountains. We don’t have any half-pipe actually. It looks more like a square, handmade, so we travel a lot,” Mateusz said.

Wladyslaw takes little offence to his nephew’s characterization of the half-pipes he builds.

He agrees that Poland needs the proper machinery to build one and hopes the government help or other financial support will be forthcoming after the Turin Games.

He builds half-pipes and snowboardcross courses as best he can to generate interest in the sports in his native country, while the national team does most of its training in the Alps, often in Switzerland.

Associated Press

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