Olympic Win­ter In­sti­tute ath­letes ex­ceed medal tar­gets

Alpine News - - On The Slopes - BY AN­DREW PAT­TI­SON

OLYMPIC Win­ter In­sti­tute of Aus­tralia (OWIA) ath­letes have had an im­pres­sive North­ern Hemi­sphere win­ter, high­lighted by a num­ber of medal per­for­mances at the World Cham­pi­onships and World Cup level.

Af­ter the com­ple­tion of the 2014 Olympic Win­ter Games in Sochi, Rus­sia, 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.

Aus­tralia’s Win­ning Edge is a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort led by the Aus­tralian Sports Com­mis­sion with key part­ners in the sport sec­tor, de­tail­ing Aus­tralia’s game plan for mov­ing from world class to world best.

Clear na­tional per­for­mance tar­gets have been set, with the aim for Aus­tralia to be a top 15 na­tion on the Olympic Win­ter Games medal tally, and to con­trib­ute to the tar­get of 20 plus World Cham­pi­ons an­nu­ally in both sum­mer and win­ter Olympic sports.

The OWIA has made changes to its sport pro­gram mix in or­der to align with the new AWE strat­egy of the sin­gle mea­sure­ment of high per­for­mance suc­cess is the num­ber of medals achieved at a sin­gle an­nual ‘bench­mark event’, most of­ten be­ing the World Cham­pi­onships in the years lead­ing into the four year mea­sure­ment at the Olympic Games.

The most sig­nif­i­cant changes in­clude the ceas­ing of Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Sport (AIS) schol­ar­ship pro­grams, the creation of an OWIA ‘Pro Ath­lete Park & Pipe’ op­por­tu­nity which sup­ports Aus­tralia’s lead­ing half­pipe and slopestyle ath­letes in their ski­ing and snow­board ca­reers, and the de­ci­sion to not con­tinue the op­er­a­tion of a Skele­ton slid­ing sports pro­gram for women.

OWIA ath­letes have re­sponded well to the new sport­ing sys­tem and ex­pec­ta­tions against a pre­de­ter­mined medal fore­cast, ex­ceed­ing the bench­mark tar­gets in year one of the new Olympic qua­dren­nial.

In to­tal 14 medals were won by OWIA ath­letes in World Cup and World Cham­pi­onship com­pe­ti­tion. Most en­cour­ag­ingly, a num­ber of emerg­ing ath­letes achieved first time in­ter­na­tional and podium suc­cess.

Aerial Ski­ing

Laura Peel be­came Aus­tralia’s first sport­ing World Cham­pion of 2015, when she won the gold medal in Kreis­chberg, Aus­tria dur­ing Jan­uary. Laura is the fourth Aus­tralian woman to win an aerial ski­ing World Cham­pi­onship ti­tle and fol­lows in the foot­steps of aerial ski­ing leg­ends, Kirstie Mar­shall (1997), Jac­qui Cooper (1999) and Alisa Cam­plin (2003).

Danielle Scott also had an out­stand­ing sea­son fin­ish­ing the sea­son ranked a team high third in the world. Danielle won two World Cup medals which in­cluded her first World Cup vic­tory in Moscow, Rus­sia.

Re­nee McEl­duff also won her first ever World Cup event, af­ter tak­ing gold in Lake Placid, NY, USA, dur­ing Fe­bru­ary.

Alpine Ski­ing

Dur­ing Fe­bru­ary, the 2015 Alpine World Ski Cham­pi­onships

took place in Vail-Beaver Creek re­sort in the USA and Greta Small pro­vided Aus­tralia’s high­light of the Cham­pi­onships when she fin­ished 18th in the Com­bined event. Mogul Ski­ing Britt Cox se­cured World Cham­pi­onship bronze with the best per­for­mance of her ca­reer. By fin­ish­ing third, the 20 year old be­came just the sec­ond Aus­tralian fe­male World Cham­pi­onship mogul ski­ing medal­list.

Matt Gra­ham had a break­through sea­son, fin­ish­ing the sea­son ranked fifth in the world af­ter win­ning the first World Cup medals of his ca­reer. In to­tal Matt won two sil­ver medals and one bronze medal.

Park & Pipe

20 year old half­pipe snow­board ath­lete Scotty James se­cured his first ma­jor ti­tle, claim­ing a gold medal at the 2015 World Cham­pi­onships. Scotty de­clared his in­ten­tions in the fi­nal by putting down a highly im­pres­sive per­for­mance in his first run. It was this run of 91.50 points that the rest of the field were un­able to equal.

Two time Olympic half­pipe medal­list To­rah Bright, fin­ished in sixth place at the World Cham­pi­onships, af­ter qual­i­fy­ing in third. The fol­low­ing week in Aspen USA, To­rah had an im­pres­sive bronze medal per­for­mance at the Win­ter X-Games.

Slopestyle skier Russ Hen­shaw be­came a dual World

Cham­pi­onship medal­list when he picked up the sil­ver at the 2015 World Cham­pi­onships. Russ skied bril­liantly through­out the event putting down three solid runs above 90 points and scor­ing just 0.8 of a point less than the gold medal­list. Ski Cross Both An­ton Grimus and Sami Kennedy-Sim recorded top-10 World Cup per­for­mances, af­ter ad­vanc­ing to the semi-fi­nal stage in Arosa, Switzer­land.

Snow­board Cross

Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin fin­ished the sea­son ranked sec­ond in the world, the high­est rank­ing by an Aus­tralian in 2014-2015. Chumpy’s sec­ond place rank­ing was achieved fol­low­ing back to back podi­ums, in­clud­ing one vic­tory, in the fi­nal two races of the sea­son.

Belle Brock­hoff had a con­sis­tent and much im­proved sea­son, ad­vanc­ing through to the semi­fi­nal stage or bet­ter in ev­ery event she con­tested. Belle was one place from the podium on two oc­ca­sions, fin­ish­ing fourth at both the X-Games in Aspen and in the fi­nal World Cup of the sea­son in La Molina, Spain.

Jar­ryd Hughes was also close to land­ing on the podium for the sec­ond time in his ca­reer, fin­ish­ing fourth in Veyson­naz, Switzer­land, when team­mate Alex Pullin won the event, the first time in his­tory two Aus­tralian ath­letes have fea­tured in the same Snow­board Cross fi­nal.

PHOTO: FIS

GOLD: Ae­ri­al­ist Laura Peel took out the top spot on the podium at Kreis­chberg, Aus­tria in Jan­uary.

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