For many ski aficionados, the slopes of Vancouver are quite a contrast to the hard concrete sidewalks of Manhattan.

That didn’t stop SoHo native Caitlin Compton from reaching the peak of her sport.

Even with the Winter Olympics beginning today, the 29-year-old skier still found time this week as she geared up for her first appearance at the games to reminisce about taking the subway to school.

“As a kid, I loved it,” said the cross-country skier, who lived in Manhattan until she was 10. “I used to play in Washington Square Park all the time. ... I was always an active kid, even when I used to live in the city.”
After multiple weekend trips to Vermont, Compton found her love of skiing and began regularly hitting the trails upon moving there in 1990. After graduating from Northern Michigan University on multiple sports scholarships in 2004 as an All-American in both cross-country running and Nordic skiing, Compton made her name on the cross-country skiing scene with three national championships in the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s SuperTour circuit.

Compton, who now lives in Minneapolis, still tries to visit family in Manhattan once a year and can often be found running in Central Park during the summer. “I just love the feeling of being in a metropolitan area,” Compton said. The path to an Olympic medal will be a challenge: Teammate Kikkan Randall is the only American woman in Olympic history to medal in cross-country skiing. However, Compton is simply happy for the opportunity.

“A gold medal would be huge, but even being an Olympian is such an honor because you become a role model for people everywhere,” she said.

Here are some other New York Olympians to keep an eye on in Vancouver:

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The Blueshirt quintet: Despite their U.S. team’s shaky season thus far, five Rangers will be playing for their country’s squads — Henrik Lundqvist (Sweden), Chris Drury (U.S.), Marian Gaborik (Slovakia), Ryan Callahan (U.S.) and Olli Jokinen (Finland). Look for Drury, 32, to provide some veteran leadership to a young U.S. team.

Brotherly love: For Jack and Luke Mitrani, snowboarding runs in the family. Born in New York City, Jack,22, and Luke, 19, they will be up against snowboard royalty, Sean White.

The Daly show: John Daly’s father is a retired FDNY paramedic, and his brother is a corrections officer on Rikers Island. The 24-year-old Daly, a first-time Olympian in the skeleton competition, won the America’s Cup in 2007-08 and six consecutive gold medals at the Intercontinental Cup in 2009.