Long road to Olympic Games easier to travel with help of siblings

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VANCOUVER - As a kid, Britt Janyk used to get irritated when her younger brother Michael wanted to hang out with her and her friends.
"At times it was kind of uncool to have my baby brother around," the 29-year-old Canadian skier says with a chuckle during a recent interview.
But any friction between the siblings from Whistler, B.C., would disappear the moment they strapped on their skis and headed up the slopes.
"Once we were on the ski hill we were buddies," said Britt. "We were pals."
The races the pair would stage as kids, with a cup of hot chocolate as the prize, sharpened the competitive skills of the brother and sister. It also formed a bond that exists today as the Janyks prepare for the 2010 Winter Olympics in their hometown.
"It's been a huge bonus having her there," says 27-year-old Michael, a bronze medallist in slalom at this year's world championships. "She's helped me so much and I've learned so much from her, seeing what she's gone through.
"There are so many struggles in sport. People deal with injuries or a mental lack of toughness. Its a tough life to lead on the road. To have someone going through it with you, makes it much easier."
The Janyks are one of several sets of siblings expected to compete for Canada at next February's Games in Vancouver and Whistler.
Speedskating is by far the largest family affair.
Charles Hamelin, 25, is considered a medal threat in short-track speedskating. His brother Francois, 22, could also be on the podium, but first must qualify for the Olympic team.
Canadian record holder Denny Morrison, 23, has pre-qualified for the long-track speedskating team, while older brother Jay, 26, is still battling for a spot.
Jamie Gregg, 24, is expected to make the long-track team. His sister Jessica, 21, will compete in short-track.
Veteran Jeremy Wotherspoon, 32, will skate in his fourth Olympics in 2010 but his sister Danielle, 29, is a longshot to make the team.
Erik Guay, 28, is one of Canada's best bets for an alpine medal. His brother Stefan, 23, is battling to regain his form after a serious knee injury in 2006.
Mike and Chris Moffat will wear the Maple Leaf in the two-man luge. Being slightly shorter, Mike is the one on the bottom.
"If you are sliding at Whistler and you tip over, it's a good place to be because I don't touch the ice as much as he does," Mike explains.
It will be the second Olympics for the brothers from Calgary, who placed ninth at the 2006 Turin Games.
A picture from the Turin opening ceremonies is one of Mike's prized possessions.
"It's the most memorable moment of mine," says the 27-year-old. "To actually be there as a team was a pretty special moment."
Francois Hamelin said having a family member close can help ease the pressure of travelling and competing.
"When I started to do trips and training with the national team, he helped me and gave me advice," Francois says of his brother. "That was really helpful.
"I am really thankful to him for that."
Denny Morrison says chasing his older brother made him a better skater.
"What ever goals he accomplished two years before, I would want to accomplish those same goals two years later," says the Fort St. John, B.C., native. "I would want to match his level of success.
"It made it easy for me to develop achievable goals but still push myself."
Britt Janyk said Michael constantly pushed her.
"He says I always was better and he was trying to catch up, which in a sense was true," says Britt, who has won a World Cup downhill race and recorded eight top-five finishes. "His always trying to catch up to me, pushed me to move forward . . . because I knew he was right on my heels."
The fact his big sister is a downhill racer, and Michael skis the technical events, doesn't go unnoticed by other alpine team members.
"I get flack from the guys saying she does the tough events and I don't," says Michael.
High performance athletes are competitive by nature. Losing is hard any time. Being beaten by a brother doesn't make it any easier.
Jay Morrison accepts that his little brother is the family's fastest skater.
"It's something I just have to come to terms with," he says. "Now I'm pretty well at peace with it. It doesn't change the fact I want to improve and to be the best as well.

"I've come to terms with the fact he is faster than a lot of people in the world who are older than he is. In fact, he's faster than everyone in the world sometimes. It's not something I need to feel bad about. I'm really proud of my brother."

Geographic location: Whistler, VANCOUVER, Canada Maple Leaf Calgary Turin Fort St. John

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