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The 10 Greatest Australian Winter Olympic Moments Of All-Time, They're Truly Special

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The 10 Greatest Australian Winter Olympic Moments Of All-Time, They're Truly Special

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

By Ryan Rosendale

While not known for the climate like conditions seen during the Winter Olympics, Australia has still seen its fair share of success across the Games almost 100-year history.

Here, we look back at the top 10 Australian moments to take place at the Winter Olympiad.

10. Hughes and James shine in the snowboarding - 2018 PyeongChang Games

It was double delight for Australian snowboarding fans when both Jarryd Hughes and Scotty James won silver and bronze respectively at the 2018 PyeongChang Games.

Hughes, competing in his first Winter Olympics, excelled in the snowboard cross event, finishing first in his heat round group, second in the quarterfinals and second in the semi-finals before claiming the silver in the final.

For James, who made his Olympics debut at 15 in 2010 in Vancouver, he would finish second in the qualification round behind eventual gold medallist Shaun White before being upstaged by White and Ayumu Hirano from Japan in the final to take home bronze with James's podium finish the last Australian medal winner heading into the Beijing 2022 Games.

09. Matt Graham becomes lucky number thirteen - 2018 PyeongChang Games

Beginning his skiing career at the age of six, Gosford born Matt Graham made his Olympics debut at the 2014 Sochi Games, finishing seventh in the finals of the men's moguls. Graham would continue to compete in world championship events in the lead-up to the 2018 PyeongChang Games. It was here where he would become the 13th Australian Winter Olympics medallist when he claimed silver in the men's moguls with Graham to again compete in the freestyle skiing at the 2022 Beijing Games.

Matt Graham. Credit: Alamy
Matt Graham. Credit: Alamy

08. David Morris returns from career-threatening injury - 2014 Sochi Games

Victorian born skier David Morris made his Winter Olympics debut at the 2010 Vancouver Games, and despite finishing 13th, he became the first Australian male to compete in aerial skiing in 12 years.

Injury then struck Morris during the 2010/11 competition season when he injured his hip in Calgary, resulting in surgery and an extensive rehabilitation period. After contemplating retirement post-injury, Morris made his return during the 2012/13 season before being selected for the 2014 Sochi Games. It was here where he would win silver in the Aerial Skiing event and become the first Australian medallist in the Olympic Men's Aerials.

07. Dale Begg-Smith makes good on Aussie move - 2006 Turin Games

Canadian born skier Dale Begg-Smith made the move to Australia in 2001 but it wasn't until a falling out with Canadian Olympic officials that the now Australian citizen jumped ship to the green and gold.

He would be selected to represent Australia at the Turin Games where he would become the first Australian male skier to win Winter Olympics gold at the age of 21, also making him the youngest man to ever win Olympic gold in skiing.

06. Third time the charm for Zali Steggall - 1998 Nagano Games

Australia's most internationally successful alpine skier, Zali Steggall, had competed in two prior Winter Games but it wasn't until the 1998 Games in Nagano that she would have a podium finish. After winning the slalom world championship just three months earlier, Steggall headed into the Games as one of the medal favourites but would face tough competition from world champions Deborah Compagnoni and Pernilla Wiberg.

The event was as tight as they come with Steggall's bronze medal time of 1m 32.67s just 0.27s behind eventual gold medallist Hilde Gerg and 0.21s behind Compagnoni while Wiberg couldn't finish. Steggall's win would see her become Australia's first individual medallist, first female medallist, and only medallist in alpine skiing.

Zali Steggall. Credit: Alamy
Zali Steggall. Credit: Alamy

05. Australia claims its first Winter Games medal - 1994 Lillehammer Games

Having made its debut at the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Games, Australia had yet to feature on the podium heading into the 1994 Lillehammer Games.

The four-man short track speed skating team of Steven Bradbury, Kieran Hansen, Andrew Murtha, and Richard Nizielski changed that when they raced their way to bronze in the 5,000m relay, creating Australian sporting history as the country's first Winter Games medallists. The group wouldn't compete as a four-man team again, making their podium finish all that more memorable.

04. Lydia Lassila vanquishes demons - 2010 Vancouver Games

Aerial skier Lydia Lassila headed into the 2010 Vancouver Games with major doubt if she could overcome her mental demons following a horror knee injury four years earlier at the 2006 Turin Games.

The reigning world champion however wouldn't let history repeat itself as she claimed gold and described her victory as "vindication for all the sacrifices".

She became the second Australian to win gold in aerial skiing... but more on that below.

Lydia Lassila. Credit: Alamy
Lydia Lassila. Credit: Alamy

03. Alisa Camplin skies her way to gold - 2002 Salt Lake City Games

Victorian Alisa Camplin had spent years dreaming of competing for her country at a Summer Olympics in athletics or gymnastics. But it wasn't until 1994 when the realisation of being able to compete at the Winter Games became a reality.

Camplin was recruited to train for aerial skiing after impressing at a trampoline demonstration in her home state and a mere eight years after taking up the sport, Camplin would represent her country at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

In her Olympics debut, the then 27-year-old would nail two near-perfect triple-twisting double somersaults on her way to what was described as an incredibly unlikely victory which resulted in the first ever Winter Olympics gold medal for an Australian woman and Australia's first gold medal in a skiing event.

02. Torah Bright's halfpipe Hailmary - 2010 Vancouver Games

After failing during her first run of the snowboard halfpipe final at the 2010 Vancouver Games, flagbearer Torah Bright needed something to pull off something incredible to stay within reach of a gold medal.

Sitting in last place heading into the second run, Bright made an all-or-nothing play by attempting arguably the most difficult manoeuvre in snowboarding. The trick involved taking off backwards before completing two 'blind spins' in which Bright wouldn't be able to see the ground until the very last moment, thus making the landing incredibly difficult. The hailmary type trick came off for Bright who nailed the run, scoring 45 out of a possible 50 and a gold medal for the 23-year-old.

Torah Bright. Credit: Alamy
Torah Bright. Credit: Alamy

01. Steve Bradbury speeds into Australian sporting history - 2002 Salt Lake City Games

Was there ever any doubt? Bradbury's gold medal win in the 1000 Meter Short Track Speed Skating final has stood the test of time since the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. Sitting at the back of the pack when race favourite Apollo Anton Ohno and the three other finalists collided in an epic crash; Bradbury was close enough to the pack to cross the finish line before any of the fallen skaters, becoming Australia's first gold medallist in the Winter Olympics history and a national icon.

Topics: Aussie, Winter Olympics news, Australia, Winter Olympics, top 10

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