Aussies welcome idea of new winter events

6 April 2011

The more extreme the sports at the Winter Olympics, the better for Australia.

So says the nation's winter sports supremo, who has welcomed the prospect of a raft of new, youth-orientated events for the 2014 Games in Russia.

Olympic Games officials are this week considering which sports to add, with ski halfpipe, ski slopestyle and snowboard slopestyle all on the shortlist.

After Australia's most successful Winter Olympics in Vancouver with two gold medals and a silver, the tally could even improve if the sports are added for Sochi.

At the recent world championship Melbourne-based Anna Segal took out the women's ski slopestyle while Russ Henshaw snared a bronze in the men's event.

There is also strong talent in the ski halfpipe discipline.

Bringing ready-made talent like 24-year-old Segal into the Games fold and the prospect of developing others for the new disciplines would work well for Australia which finds it hard to compete in alpine disciplines traditionally dominated by Europeans.

"We can be more competitive, we can design programs that are effective for Australian athletes in Australia, so we're very excited," Olympic Winter Institute boss Geoff Lipshut said.

"In the newer disciplines, there is an advantage to be had than (in) the traditional alpine events."

Three more Australian world champions were feted in Melbourne on Wednesday - led by Victorian snowboard cross star Alex Pullin.

He won the world championship in January followed by the World Cup title in Switzerland.

Holly Crawford and Nate Johnstone won their world halfpipe titles.

The trio returned home from their overseas triumphs this week.

Most excitement surrounds Pullin, who has parlayed bitter disappointment from crashing out of last year's Vancouver Winter Olympics final into a huge past three months.

"He actually felt he could win, he actually felt it was his time in Vancouver," Lipshut said.

"Then he made a mistake. Now, it's taught him an enormous amount. Out of the last seven events, he's been on the podium five times."

The International Olympic Committee is expected to announce some of the events to be added for the 2014 Sochi Games later this week.

Guy Hand

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