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One by one, they zigzagged down the mountain, near the end of a line of nearly 90 racers in a snowy giant slalom, looking more like ski hobbyists on a weekend jaunt than world-class competitors.

Many of the skiers were first-time Olympians, brought together by one very pertinent thing they have in common: a shortage of snow in the countries they are representing in Beijing, which include Jamaica, Ghana, India, East Timor and Morocco.

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