Who are Australia’s greatest-ever winter athletes? With the Winter Olympics one month away I thought I’d pose what is a difficult question.
How do you compare snowboarders to skiers and those who survived off the sniff of a panini in the 80s to millionaire athletes of the most recent generation?
Well, I’m going to give it a go. The results won’t please everyone but having been to four Games and seen most of them first hand I’m going to rate them from 10 to 1. Drum roll please …
If you want to know what Scotty James has been up to this past six months, even he says it’s best not to look at his social media.
There’s Barcelona, boxing poses and a boat in Miami that could be straight from The Lonely Island film clip.
“My Instagram probably says otherwise – that I have been having a good time but I have been working really hard,” he says with a chuckle.
In the first of a series of interviews leading up to the Winter Olympics, starting on February 9, The Snow Gauge chats to moguls skier Matt Graham and talks about his rivalry with Canadian great Mikael Kingsbury.
Just how do you dethrone the king?
It’s a question that has been on the mind of Australian moguls champion Matt Graham for some time.
While Graham will head to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February as one his country’s best medal prospects, there’s royalty in his way.
It comes in the form of Canadian Mikael Kingsbury, a six-time World Cup champion who, quite simply, is the best the sport has seen.
Quiksilver have come to the party this week and provided us with a jacket for the first week of The Snow Gauge winter giveaways.
“But I already bought an Aldi jacket” I hear you say.
You and 22,228 others as it turns out.
To stand out this Southern Hemisphere winter you’ll just need to sign up for The Snow Gauge newsletter to get a shot at winning this sweet Horizon jacket from Quiksilver.
In the end Australia’s two best winter athletes just couldn’t be separated.
So it seemed only fitting that moguls skier Britt Cox and halfpipe snowboarder Scotty James shared the Australian Snowsports Athlete of the Year Award.
When the Australia Day gongs were handed down I was little bit surprised to find that moguls skier Dale Begg-Smith was amongst the recipients this year, receiving a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his services to sport.
A gold medal moguls winner for Australia in 2006 at the Turin Winter Olympics he backed it up with silver four years later in Vancouver.
Those achievements are unquestioned and from all reports he has given back a fair bit of his time to fellow skiers, his mentorship no doubt helping to pave the way for the likes of Matt Graham and Britt Cox to achieve the success they have.
But – and here comes the but …
He smoked. He drank. He was 25kg overweight. He’s half-English. Skiing for Tonga at the 2018 Winter Olympics doesn’t seem like the logical next step for Kasete Skeen but the 34 year-old is going to give it a crack.
If Kasete Naufahu Skeen realises his aim of becoming an Olympian don’t expect him to oil up and get around in a traditional Tongan waist garment like Rio 2016 compatriot and Internet sensation Pita Taufatofua.
It’s not that Skeen wouldn’t proudly represent the island nation of 105,000 people – more likely he’d just freeze his nipples off. This is, after all, South Korea in winter, where temperatures drop to -10 degrees Celsius.
I could be the only heterosexual male in the free world to make this observation but I have an issue with Ms Vonn’s seemingly rock-hard, well-toned posterior. And I reckon any hardworking female athlete – in any sport – should too.
In case you missed it on Instagram yesterday, the greatest women’s skier of all time posted a short video of her doing single-leg step downs in Portillo, Chile.
Well, it was in the pool. Her costume was on the brief side. And as you may gather by the clip (linked later on so you can make your own call), the slow and deliberate movements as her barely-clad derriere rises from the water has some not-so-subtle sexual undertones that’d make Benny Hill proud.
Well, why does the winner of 76 World Cups and four overall titles – perhaps the most recognisable female athlete in the world next to Serena Williams and Simone Biles right now – feel the need to promote herself this way? And what message does this send to any other athlete of her gender?
There’s another Jarryd who’s made it in America. He didn’t try out for the Fijian rugby sevens team though and he’s a much better chance than the Hayne Plane of winning an Olympic medal.
Forget footy for just for a moment and start thinking snowboarding.
Jarryd Hughes may not be a multi-code football star but he is an X Games winner in snowboard cross, a World Cup winner and Australian Winter Olympian.
In what was looming as an epic season after the win in Aspen, Jarryd (that’s Hughes not Hayne folks) busted his knee when testing out the site for the Korean Olympic course. The Snow Gauge caught up with him to see where things were at.
What’s better than giving away a pair of goggles this week from The Snow Gauge?
How about two pairs for two separate winners!
The team at Level Nine Sports have given us two pairs of great Spy Doom Goggles with bonus interchangeable lenses this week.