Aussie winter sports’ $10m game changer
- A final decision will be handed down on the proposed Lennox Head water ramp facility at the NSW state budget on June 21
- The facility would be a first in Australia and allow athletes to spend a significant portion of their year training domestically
- The new pool would and certain facilities would be available for public use
- It has potential to pave the way for the return of an on-snow aerials site at Mt Buller and a World Cup round.
It’s been almost a decade at the discussion table in one form or another but there’s cause for optimism that a new water jump facility for Australian winter athletes will be approved to be built at Lennox Head, this month.
The $10 million facility on the NSW north coast is thought to be earmarked for approval when the state budget is handed down on June 21.
Head of the Olympic Winter Institute Geoff Lipshut said he was very hopeful it would get built.
“The NSW government has been fantastic since (the site in) Queensland was cancelled,” he said. “And we’ve been working with them a long time, especially our chairman Geoff Henke who has done a lot of work on it.
“He’s taken it as his personal crusade to get it up. He wants it for the athletes.
“We are very very hopeful it will be included in the next NSW budget.”
Given the Queensland site actually got the go ahead and then was pulled due to budget cuts, Lipshut wasn’t counting it as a lock just yet though.
“It can be looking good now but the final budget paper gets put together and they’ve got to shave X amount off and they cancel the three smallest things. As we saw with Queensland it was half bloody built and they cancelled it – so you never know.”
“We have our fingers crossed. This is big. If we can get it up it will be fantastic – it’s a great location.”
The site would have a new pool and ramps big enough for the most complex tricks performed in aerial skiing, moguls and even snowboarding.
It could be used for swimming, water polo and other sports by the general public, Lipshut believing it would be of more practical use than other international facilities because of the warm weather.
He then felt it would open the door for international athletes to pay for training on site during the mild north coast winters before transitioning to a re-built snow facility at Mt Buller. He then felt a return to aerial skiing World Cups at the Victorian resort wouldn’t be “that far away”.
With the build time anywhere between 12-24 months there was scope some training could be done before the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. And that would likely pave the way for two-time Winter Olympic medallist Lydia Lassila (who last year discussed her desire to continue in the sport if she could train in Australia) to push for a fifth Games.
Lassila has already been seen training at the basic facility at Lilydale in Victoria.
“Even if it was open six months before it would help a lot,” Lipshut said.
“It would make a big difference for her. Lydia is one of the ones we are really anxious about actually. If we can give her the opportunity to get there again it would be fabulous.”
“It has been a frustrating journey. But we are optimistic (it will be built). We really are.”