We may not be world famous when it comes to Olympic skiing and skating but Giaan Rooney says the Aussies shouldn’t be counted out. Guy Davis spoke to the champion swimmer covering the Winter Olympics for Nine.
journos such as Eddie McGuire and Ken Sutcliff e, former sporting stars including Grant Hackett and Winter Olympic gold medallist Alisa Camplin and comedians such as Mick Molloy.
She’s heading over a little early, though, so she can fi le a few stories that will give viewers an insight into the winter wonderland that is Vancouver and the surrounding area – locations such as Victoria Island, Grouse Mountain and the ski-resort town of Whistler.
“ It means I’ll get to have a bit of a look around as well, which is lovely,” Rooney said.
After her sightseeing – sorry, reporting – wraps up, it’s down to Olympic business, with Rooney focusing on events including fi gure skating, curling ( it’s a little like ice hockey but it involves brooms and a big, smooth stone) and ski cross ( a new event that’s not unlike motocross on snow).
Now, Australian viewers may be unfamiliar with a fair few of these Winter Olympic events and unable to name too many of the athletes taking part in them.
But even though Australia isn’t world renowned for its prowess in winter sports, Rooney says that we’re actually punching well above our weight.
“ We have very average snow compared to some other parts of the world, especially the northern hemisphere, but in terms of competition on the world stage we’ve done pretty well,” she said.
“ Four years ago, we came away from the Winter Olympics in Turin with one gold and one bronze, and I’m confi dent we’ll top that this time. We’ve got quite a few medal chances this year. So that’s what I love about Aussies: we’re so competitive that we’ll have a red-hot crack at any sport!”
In fact, according to Rooney, Australia has a long, proud tradition of success when it comes to women’s aerial events, and it’s an area where we should shine in Vancouver.
Freestyle aerial skier Jacqui Cooper is taking part in her fi fth Winter Olympics, making her the fi rst Australian woman to be part of fi ve Olympic teams, winter or summer, and Lydia Lassila is in the midst of a blazing comeback following a bad run with injuries.
“ Lydia is coming off a great World Cup series,” Rooney said. “ She’s got a lot of experience, and I think she’s our gold-medal favourite among the women.”
Freestyle moguls skier Dale Begg-Smith, looking to repeat his Turin gold-medal performance, and half-pipe snowboarder Torah Bright are also on Rooney’s radar.
“ Dale also has a great World Cup series behind him, and I know Torah wasn’t very happy about coming in fi fth in Turin four years ago, so she’s out for revenge!
“ Throughout the squad we have people who are placed in the top 10 in the world, so there could be a few surprises.”
What’s not surprising, Rooney said, is that these athletes share the same drive and determination as those in more high-profi le events.
“ They’re very similar in how they’re so proud to be representing their country,” she said.
“ And they actually love the fact that Australia isn’t really rated or mentioned in the same breath as their northern hemisphere counterparts when talk of the Winter Olympics comes up I think they like to take that on board and prove the rest of the world wrong with their skill and talent and drive.”
Cold cover: Giaan Roone Rooney,
with fellow Olymp Olympics presenters Steven Bradbury Bradbu ( inset left), Alisa Camp Camplin
and Grant Hacke Hackett.