Sea­son 2015-16 Wrap

Alpine News - - Contents - BY ANDREW PAT­TI­SON Olympic Win­ter In­sti­tute of Aus­tralia

FULL re­port from the Olympic Win­ter In­sti­tute of Aus­tralia cov­er­ing all dis­ci­plines and how the OWIA ath­letes fared.

AUS­TRALIA has con­tin­ued to ex­cel at the high­est level of win­ter sport dur­ing 2015-2016, with a num­ber of ath­letes mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant gains in es­tab­lish­ing them­selves as medal ca­pa­ble per­form­ers at the 2018 Olympic Win­ter Games in PyeongChang, Korea.

Af­ter the com­ple­tion of the 2014 Olympic Win­ter Games, the Aus­tralian sport­ing sys­tem un­der­went ma­jor change in a num­ber of ar­eas in re­sponse to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s Aus­tralia’s Win­ning Edge (AWE) strat­egy and a new di­rec­tion for Olympic sport.

Na­tional per­for­mance tar­gets have been set via per­for­mance at an an­nual Bench­mark Event (BME). The aim for Aus­tralia is to be a top 15 na­tion on the Olympic Win­ter Games medal tally, and to con­trib­ute to the target of 20+ World Cham­pi­ons an­nu­ally in both sum­mer and win­ter Olympic sports.

In the ab­sence of World Cham­pi­onships in year two of the Olympic qua­dren­nial, the BME fo­cus was largely on des­ig­nated World Cup events.

In to­tal, 13 medals were won by Olympic Win­ter In­sti­tute of Aus­tralia (OWIA) ath­letes at the World Cup level, with three medals - gold, sil­ver and bronze - also won at the X-Games in Aspen, CO, USA.

Seven Aus­tralian ath­letes were ranked in the top ten on the end of sea­son World Cup standings, in­clud­ing three in the top three in the world.

The BME for the freestyle ski­ing dis­ci­plines of mogul ski­ing and ae­rial ski­ing was the World Cup event in Deer Val­ley, UT, USA.

OWIA/NSW In­sti­tute of Sport (NSWIS) mogul skier Matthew Gra­ham had an out­stand­ing sea­son, tak­ing home three World Cup medals, in­clud­ing the first gold medal of his ca­reer in Deer Val­ley. The win makes Gra­ham only the sec­ond Aus­tralian mogul ath­lete to stand on the top tier of the podium at the World Cup level.

Gra­ham fin­ished the sea­son ranked sec­ond in the world, the high­est rank­ing of any Aus­tralian male win­ter sports ath­lete and was recog­nised for his achieve­ments, crowned Ath­lete of the Year at the 2016 Aus­tralian Ski & Snow­board Awards.

Britt Cox had an­other strong sea­son, qual­i­fy­ing for fi­nals at ev­ery World Cup event. At Deer Val­ley, Cox nar­rowly missed out on qual­i­fy­ing for the top six medal fi­nal, fin­ish­ing in eighth place.

Danielle Scott was the best per­formed ath­lete in the OWIA/Vic­to­rian In­sti­tute of Sport (VIS) Ae­rial Ski­ing Pro­gram, fin­ish­ing the sea­son sec­ond in the world, the high­est rank­ing of any Aus­tralian fe­male win­ter sports ath­lete. Scott had a num­ber of podium per­for­mances, high­lighted by a sil­ver medal un­der lights in Deer Val­ley, UT, USA.

Af­ter hav­ing a break from com­pe­ti­tion dur­ing the pre­vi­ous sea­son, Olympic sil­ver medal­list David Mor­ris made a suc­cess­ful re­turn, fin­ish­ing on the podium in the first two World Cup events of the sea­son in Beijing, China.

Sa­man­tha Wells recorded the first podium of her ca­reer, tak­ing sil­ver on the first day of World Cup com­pe­ti­tion in Deer Val­ley, af­ter land­ing a new jump, full-double full, for the first time in an event.

The BME for Snow­board Cross was de­ter­mined to be the end of sea­son World Cup standings. Belle Brock­hoff had a break­through sea­son, fin­ish­ing the year ranked third in the world, with Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin closely be­hind in fifth.

Brock­hoff made his­tory be­com­ing the first Aus­tralian fe­male to win a snow­board cross World Cup at the fi­nal event of the sea­son in Baque­ira Beret, Spain. Adding fur­ther to the sig­nif­i­cance of the win, was that team­mate Chumpy Pullin, also recorded vic­tory in the men’s event, mark­ing the first time Aus­tralia has won both the ladies’ and men’s events at a World Cup.

Jar­ryd Hughes spear­headed an­other his­toric first for Aus­tralia at the X-Games in Aspen, lead­ing a one-two fin­ish with Chumpy Pullin closely be­hind in sec­ond place.

Cameron Bolton came ag­o­nis­ingly close to se­cur­ing the first World Cup podium of his ca­reer in Monta­fon, Aus­tria, plac­ing fourth at the open­ing event of the sea­son.

The BME for Snow­board Half­pipe was the World Cup held in Sap­poro, Ja­pan. Kent Cal­lis­ter fin­ished the event as the best per­formed of the Aus­tralian con­tin­gency, plac­ing sixth with Nathan John­stone in tenth. Holly Craw­ford made it three top ten per­for­mances for Aus­tralia, fin­ish­ing in eighth.

The stand­out per­for­mance of the sea­son came from Scott James, who landed on the podium for the first time at the X-Games in Aspen, tak­ing home the bronze medal.

Dual Olympic medal­list To­rah Bright only com­peted once in 2015-2016, fin­ish­ing sec­ond at the Laax Open in Switzer­land. An un­for­tu­nate con­cus­sion in train­ing at the X-Games forced To­rah to sit out the re­main­ing events in the sea­son.

Slopestyle skier Russ Hen­shaw was set for a big sea­son af­ter nar­rowly miss­ing the podium in fourth place at the US Grand Prix Event/World Cup in Mam­moth Moun­tain, CA, USA, but suf­fered a sea­son end­ing shoul­der in­jury shortly af­ter.

Com­pet­ing in the BME/ Olympic Test Event for snow­board slopestyle, NSWIS rider Jes­sica Rich fin­ished in an en­cour­ag­ing eighth place in PyeongChang.

The most con­sis­tent Aus­tralian ski cross per­former was Sami Kennedy-Sim. KennedySim made a strong start to the sea­son, plac­ing sixth in the open­ing World Cup in Monta­fon, with an­other three top eight semi-fi­nal re­sults also recorded.

Anton Grimus timed his best per­for­mance of the sea­son per­fectly, fin­ish­ing in ninth place at the Olympic Test Event for PyeongChang.

Aus­tralia’s lead­ing alpine skier, Greta Small, made a suc­cess­ful re­turn from ACL knee surgery and with the in­jury now be­hind her, Small is look­ing for­ward to re­sum­ing train­ing and com­pet­ing at the high­est level.

PHOTOS: OWIA

WORLD CUP: An­other great sea­son was had by snow­board cross ath­lete Belle Brock­hoff, who had a top podium fin­ish in Spain.

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