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      Student skiers to train in Europe

      For the sixth year, a group of northern Michigan skiers will test their skills and learn next to professional skiers in Austria.

      A group of northern Michigan skiers will head across the ocean for some big time training November 20-30.

      More than fifty students, parents, and coaches will spend ten days in Hintertux, Austria.

      The group is made up of local U.S.A. teams, high school students, and the Grand Traverse ski club.

      Parents of the 28 students hope their kids learn about more than just skiing as they head overseas for the intense ski racing training in Austria.

      ??Maybe there's more that exists outside of her little universe, which, at 14 years old is not all that big,?? said Jennifer Warren, whose daughter is heading overseas for the first time.

      It is the sixth year racers from Traverse City based EuroCustom have packed their bags and skis and hopped over the pond to train next to elite World Cup ski racers.

      ??We had been in Europe a number of times, saw what kind of training opportunities were there and wanted to pass that along,?? said Ed Johnson, co-founder of EuroCustom. "The whole experience is unbeatable. We've got some really, really good quality athletes training there that are close to the age of our kids. So they get to see kids from other countries, develop friendships, and get to experience the whole thing.??

      ??People keep saying, 'how can you let her go, aren't you scared?' But I'm not at all,?? said Warren.

      Warren??s daughter raised $2,100 for the trip by babysitting this summer. Mom says the trip will be good for her on the slopes and off.

      ??It's going to be a great opportunity both in terms of ski training and the cultural experience,?? said Warren.

      For now, the students are doing pre-season conditioning indoors, getting ready for the European mountains.

      ??We had powder that was like 3 feet deep in some places,?? said Benjamin Friar, a twelfth grader on his third ski trip abroad. ??My first year we had no snow at all.??

      ??There's like no trees, and it's so high up that there's just a bunch of open ski runs, and lot of lane spaces, so it's better I think,?? said eighth grader Joseph Aulicino, who??s returning for his third trip. ??I take German. I think its fun to try to speak with the locals. That's one thing that's an added bonus.??

      Other students are excited to meet some of the great skiers.

      ??I'm so excited to get to talk to them,?? said Morgan Culp, an eleventh grader heading to Austria for the first time. ??Maybe [I can] get some tips from them or learn new stuff.??

      The time abroad prepares the students for the upcoming season.

      "They come back here and jump into various races around Michigan. They don't have any problems with the course sets, the snow conditions, or the hills. It really sets them up for an amazing season," said Austin Johnson, EuroCustom co-founder.

      The trip has expanded from its first year when only 12 kids went overseas. This year the group consists of 28 students, ranging from 11 to 18 years old.