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 …
Powering on – Lydia Lassila confirms a fifth Winter Olympics tilt. Pic: Lydia Lassila Facebook
Inspired by the recent approval of a new water ramp facility to be built at the NSW North Coast town of Lennox Head, Lydia Lassila has announced plans to target a fifth Winter Olympics.
A gold medallist from Vancouver 2010, she has agonised over the decision since also taking out bronze at the Sochi Games in 2014.
And while she accepts that realistically she may not even get to use the new Australian facility before the Games she was determined to go out on her own terms.
A water ramp facility in Lennox Head may see the return of four-time Winter Olympian Lydia Lassila
- 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.
For Lydia Lassila it’s the $8 million question to which she has a simple answer: build a proper water jump facility for snow athletes in Australia and she’ll have a crack at a fifth Winter Olympics.
For those that don’t know, water ramps can be just as key for winter athletes as the snowbound facilities. It is here where they spend their summers (and often parts of their winters) to learn, perform and perfect the tricks they will take to the hills.
Lydia Lassila nails a jump at the Sochi Winter Olympics
A water jump facility was initially slated to be built in east Brisbane but the project was halted in 2013, then Liberal Premier Campbell Newman calling it a “luxury item the people of Queensland simply cannot afford”. The NSW far north coast town of Lennox Head then became a possible home for the site but development plans are still on ice, waiting for funding from the state and federal governments.
Ok, I can hear the guffaws already. I love winter sports and even I have my doubts. But the the two-time Winter Olympic medallist (Vancouver 2010, gold and Sochi 2014 bronze) lays down a case as smooth as her triple-twisting double-somersaults.
It was a year and then some after his Sochi silver medal efforts before David Morris realised that he’d really made it.
While Adam Goodes may beg to differ, featuring on Eddie McGuire’s Millionaire Hot Seat was surely the ultimate sign of national acceptance.