With exactly one month to go until the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, the heat is on Australia’s finest winter athletes. Some have secured their positions in what will be Australia’s biggest winter Team in history; others are involved in 11th hour bids to book their tickets to Sochi 2014; all of them ASPIRE to Sochi.
It is a thrilling time as the Team of 55-60 athletes takes shape and you can follow the journey at olympics.com.au and on social media with @AUSOlympicTeam.
Here is our snapshot of where Australia is positioned with one month to go…
In Alpine Skiing Australia looks poised to send three female competitors- with Greta Small, Emily Bamford and Lavinia Chrystal the current frontrunners. This is a great result considering the last time Australia was represented in the women’s Alpine events was at Salt Lake City in 2002. We should also have two male racers with Ross Peraudo, Luke Laidlaw and Mike Rishworth leading the charge for the positions, along with a number of other talented Aussies.
Dual Olympians Astrid Radjenovic and Jana Pittman will know their Olympic qualification fate come 20 January but look set to hurtle down the Sochi track in Bobsleigh, as does fellow Bobsleigh pilot Heath Spence who leads to the 2-man and 4-man bobsleigh squads.
Russian-born Alexei Almoukov is hoping for a re-allocation of quota places to go his way to secure a spot in the Sochi Biathlon events.
Olympian Esther Bottomley is on track to become the first Australian woman to contest three Olympics in Cross Country Skiing. Aimee Watson is trying to push her way into the Team with her brother Callum Watson and Phil Bellingham on track to qualify in the men’s events.
The Figure Skating contingent is now complete with Brooklee Han’s selection confirmed for the ladies’ individual event. She joins Brendan Kerry, Danielle O’Brien and Greg Merriman in the four-strong contingent heading to Sochi.
It is hoped that 21 athletes (13 women and 8 men) will earn selection across the Freestyle Skiing events: Aerials, Moguls, Ski Cross, Ski Halfpipe and Ski Slopestyle. This includes a large representation in Aerials– we are on track to send the maximum four female skiers headed up by Olympic Champion Lydia Lassila and one male representative in Dave Morris. Up to four men and three women could potentially line up for Australia in Moguls, including 2006 Olympic Champion Dale Begg-Smith on the comeback trail. In Ski Cross three women look set to race in Sochi and currently two men’s spots look secure, with fingers crossed Scott Kneller’s injury won’t dampen his quest for qualification. In the new disciplines it is hoped Australia can secure two female Halfpipe spots and more in Slopestyle with Russ Henshaw and Anna Segal leading the way.
In the Long Track Speed Skating, Daniel Greig is poised for team selection after he produced some really strong results in both the 500m and 1000m sprint events at the recent World Cups. Greig will be one of the youngest competitors in Sochi but has his eye on a top-five finish.
The unlikely tale of the luger from Townsville has come to fruition, with North Queensland’s Alex Ferlazzo ‘unofficially’ qualified for Sochi. He will be Australia’s only competitor in Luge.
In Short Track Speed Skating Australia will be represented by two talented youngsters in Deanna Lockett and Pierre Boda. Lockett skated her way to a 1000m and 1500m berth at the recent World Cup circuit. Boda’s road was a little tougher, taking on teammate and friend Andy Jung in a skate-off for the 500m men’s spot.
Sliders Michelle Steele and Lucy Chaffer look set to qualify for the Games in the sport of Skeleton while John Farrow is in a battle to move up the qualification ladder, potentially relying on reallocation come 19 January.
Australia will be well represented in all three Snowboard disciplines: Halfpipe, Slopestyle and Snowboard Cross. Hopefully the Team will feature 15 athletes including dual World Champion Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin and defending Halfpipe champion Torah Bright. Bright has a big two weeks ahead to secure her goal of also contesting the Slopestyle and Snowboard Cross. Young riders Jarryd Hughes, Scotty James and Belle Brockhoff are also showing great form.
Unfortunately Australia was unable to qualify in Curling, Ice Hockey, Nordic Combined or Ski Jumping. These athletes are looking toward the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeong Chang, South Korea.
AOC Media | sochi2014.olympics.com.au
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