Salt Lake City 2002
The Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games saw the expansion of the Olympic program to 78 events, including the return of skeleton and the introduction of women's bobsleigh. Athletes from a record 18 nations earned gold medals. Among the nations celebrating gold medals was Australia, which had never won a Winter Games gold medal before. In Salt Lake it won two: aerial skier Alisa Camplin and short track speed skater Steven Bradbury in the men’s 1000m. Both would emerge as two of the most popular champions of the Games.
Leading the medal table was Norway with 13 gold medals. Norway’s hero was Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who won all four men’s biathlon events, the first biathlete to win four gold medals at a single Games.
Salt Lake featured other outstanding multi-medal results in a number of sports. Samppa Lajunen of Finland won three gold medals in Nordic combined. Switzerland’s Simon Ammann won both the normal hill and large hill ski jumping events, becoming only the second athlete after Finland’s Matti Nykanen to complete the double. German speed skater Claudia Pechstein won two gold medals, including her third consecutive gold medal in the women’s 5000m. Read more>>>
Australia at these Games
Australia sent a team of 27 athletes to the 2002 Winter Olympics – the Games that rocked a nation when two extraordinary gold medals were won.
Australia’s first golden moment came at the short track speed skating rink when Steven Bradbury won an unforgettable gold in the men’s 1000m. Competing at his fourth Olympics, Bradbury had overcome some horrific injuries in the years leading up to Salt Lake, but had stayed loyal to his sport. A number of crashes, mistakes and disqualifications had helped him quietly reach the five-man final, where even more drama would occur.
In the final, Bradbury intentionally dropped behind early and trailed the rest of the field by almost a half lap as the four men in front of him bunched around the last turn. But a massive collision sent all four skaters flying, careening into the side of the rink and sliding across the ice. As the only skater left standing, Bradbury crossed the finish line first and was awarded the gold medal. Bradbury was the first to admit that he was extremely lucky, but all recognised it as a champion’s reward for a decade of hard work in a thrills-and-spills sport.
Two days later, Alisa Camplin, an ex-gymnast and a sporting role model in terms of both demeanour and courage, won the women’s aerial skiing event to send Australia into a Winter Olympic swoon. In the final, Camplin was flawless. She performed two triple-twisting, double backflip jumps to win over not only the judges, but also the fans. Her medal ceremony in the centre of Salt Lake City that night, with her mother and sister in attendance, was one of the most moving and joyous presentations of the Games.
Behind Camplin, aerial skier Lydia Lassila (then Ierodiaconou) also performed with aplomb, placing eighth. Jacqui Cooper, the favourite entering the Games, suffered a knee injury in training and had to withdraw.
A team of 10 alpine skiers competed for Australia at the Games. Among the athletes were Zali Steggall, the 1998 slalom bronze medallist, who was competing at her fourth and final Games. Jenny Owens placed ninth in the women’s combined, with Alice Jones 12th – all outstanding results.
Anthony Liu was 10th in men’s figure skating and Adrian Costa, competing at his fourth Olympics, was 18th in men’s moguls. Costa carried the Australian flag in the Opening Ceremony.