A look at Aus­tralia’s medal his­tory at the Win­ter Olympics

Alpine News - - News - By Steve Cuff

AUS­TRALIA’S first Win­ter Olympic medal came cour­tesy of the short track skating team in 1994 at Lille­ham­mer.

The team con­sisted of Steven Brad­bury, Kieran Hansen, An­drew Murtha and Richard Niziel­ski and they se­cured their podium po­si­tion in the men’s 5000 me­tre re­lay.

At the 1998 Nagano games in Ja­pan, Zali Steggall be­came our first in­di­vid­ual win­ter medal­ist cap­tur­ing bronze in the women’s slalom.

This was no small feat con­sid­er­ing the might and strength of the Euro­pean and North Amer­i­can teams.

Aus­tralia’s first mo­ment of golden glory came at Salt Lake City, Utah in 2002 where Steve Brad­bury would en­ter into Aus­tralian folk­lore win­ning our in­au­gu­ral gold medal.

Most Aus­tralian fans will for­ever re­mem­ber this mo­ment as the lead­ing skaters crashed on the fi­nal turn in the men’s 1000 me­tre short track skating event, and Brad­bury, who did not have the leg speed to keep up, cruised over the line in as­ton­ish­ment to be­come a Win­ter Olympic gold medal­ist.

As Aus­tralia cel­e­brated, a pint sized pocket rocket ae­rial skier named Alisa Cam­plin, who had never won a World Cup, stepped up to the jump af­ter team­mate and event favourite Jac­qui Cooper suc­cumbed to in­jury ear­lier in the games.

There were no ex­pec­ta­tions on Cam­plin, but with a nerve of steel, she soared into the his­tory books and Aus­tralian hearts at the Deer Val­ley site be­com­ing our sec­ond gold medal­ist.

As she shed tears in the fin­ish area her mother, who she did not know was at the event was passed through the crowd and lifted into the front row to cel­e­brate with her joy­ful daugh­ter.

At the Torino 2006 games, a young Cana­dian born mogul skier, Dale Begg-Smith who was ski­ing for Aus­tralia, showed per­fect ex­e­cu­tion in the bumps and over­came much con­tro­versy to set down a glo­ri­ous fi­nal run and cap­ture gold in the Ital­ian Alps. Cam­plin would se­cure her sec­ond Olympic medal win­ning a bronze in aeri­als.

In Van­cou­ver 2010, Aus­tralia had its most suc­cess­ful cam­paign with To­rah Bright and Ly­dia Las­sila both cap­tur­ing gold medals and Dale Begg-Smith win­ning a close fought sil­ver medal.

To­rah Bright, the new golden girl of Aus­tralian snow who had placed fifth in half­pipe at Torino had a dis­as­trous first run in the Van­cou­ver fi­nal to be sit­ting last. Start­ing first in the sec­ond run, Bright landed ev­ery jump and scored highly and pa­tiently waited as her com­peti­tors tried to bet­ter her score.

They could not oust Bright from the top po­si­tion and that trade­mark smile beamed across Aus­tralia and the world as the Olympic cham­pion.

Ly­dia Las­sila (née Iero­di­a­conou) had never had luck on her side, with a crash at Torino in 2006 that ended her cam­paign with a knee in­jury.

In 2010 the Van­cou­ver air suited her to a tee and the then cur­rent World Cup cham­pion etched her name into the record books with a su­perb fi­nal jump to take gold.

In Russia for the 2014 Sochi games, Las­sila per­formed the de­mand­ing quad twist­ing triple som­er­sault that no other woman had ever at­tempted.

Her ex­e­cu­tion was not per­fect but she still cap­tured a bronze medal to ce­ment her stand­ings as one of the all­time great ae­rial skiers.

Fel­low ae­rial team mem­ber, the ef­fer­ves­cent David Mor­ris would win sil­ver, com­ing from the clouds to un­ex­pect­edly reach the podium for a sil­ver medal.

To­rah Bright would be­come Aus­tralia’s most suc­cess­ful Win­ter Olympian cap­tur­ing a sil­ver medal in Russia in the women’s half­pipe to add to her 2010 gold medal.

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