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Australian Team ready to continue Lillehammer legacy

25 January 2016

TEAM: Selections have been finalised for the 2016 Australian Youth Olympic Team with 17 athletes from eight disciplines set to compete in the winter wonderland of Lillehammer, Norway from 5-21 February.

Lillehammer is the small town where Australia won its first winter Olympic medal back in 1994. Since then Australian Olympic Winter Teams have been on the podium at every Games, including the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012.

The Opening Ceremony will be held at the same Ski Jumping Arena – exactly 22 years and two hours after the magical opening of Lillehammer 1994.

Ian Chesterman was there in 1994 and in 2016 he will lead this young talented team with big dreams.

“Lillehammer holds a special place in my heart because it was my first with an Australian Olympic Team,” Chesterman said.

“It was a great thrill when we got the monkey off our back and Australia finally won a winter Olympic medal, when our short track team claimed the bronze. It was certainly a massive moment in Australian Winter Olympic history.”

The 2016 Youth Team is aged between 15 – 17 and come from Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and regional areas in between. They will compete in eight disciplines (alpine skiing, biathlon, cross country skiing, freestyle skiing, ice hockey – skills, luge, short track speed skating and snowboard) and there are plenty of athletes capable of medals and turning heads at Lillehammer 2016.

“Qualifying 17 athletes for Lillehammer 2016 across eight disciplines is a fantastic result and shows the great talent and exciting future that Australia has in winter sports,” Chesterman said.

“Innsbruck 2012 proved that the Winter Youth Games is a stepping stone towards the Winter Olympic Games and it is likely we will see some of these athletes at PyeongChang 2018 and Beijing 2022.”

Emily Arthur is one of the selected athletes who has worked hard to make this Team and has been touted as the next Torah Bright.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to represent Australia at the Olympics and a few years ago when I found out about the Youth Olympics I had a new goal I wanted to achieve,” said the 16-year-old snowboard halfpipe and slopestyle athlete.

“I am over the moon that I can represent my country on such a world stage.”

Ice hockey rising-star Jake Riley will compete in the skills challenge event, which is one of the many innovative events that will be on show in Lillehammer.

“It will be really cool to represent Australia and it will be a really proud moment for me when I get out there. It is an amazing opportunity for me and I’m really excited,” Riley said.

Alongside Chesterman, the Australian Team features a host of Olympic experience with performance services manager Ramone Cooper (Vancouver 2010 – moguls), Young Ambassador Scott Kneller (Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014 – ski cross) and team support staff Greta Small (Innsbruck 2012 and Sochi 2014 – alpine skiing) and Lavinia Chrystal (Sochi 2014 – alpine skiing) all on board.

Small competed at Innsbruck 2012 before being one of three Australian athletes to progress through to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

“It was definitely an eye-opening experience. I learnt so much in Innsbruck.

“It helped me gain so much experience and I can say that I wouldn’t have performed as well in Sochi if I had not have done YOG.”

The Australian Team has four more athletes than the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, where Australia won two bronze medals. Small, Alex Ferlazzo (luge) and Lucy Glanville (biathlon) all progressed to the senior Olympic Team from Innsbruck 2012.

Part of what distinguishes the Youth Olympic Games from other youth sport events is that it also integrates unique cultural and educational programmes. The Learn and Share program encourages athletes to participate in a whole range of activities such as seminars with senior athletes, visiting ski equipment factories, snow safety, plus learning about and meeting athletes from different cultures.

Thirteen of the Australian athletes are preparing overseas with four travelling from Australia to Lillehammer for official training at their competition venues in early February. 

The Australian Olympic Committee is proud to confirm the 2016 Youth Olympic Team:

ALPINE SKIING: Louis Muhlen (17, Melbourne, 3141) – Muhlen goes to school at the Sugar Bowl Academy in Norden, California where he can train on a regular basis. He recently claimed a win in at the Atmore Memorial in Minnesota.

Katie Parker (17, Melbourne, 3141) – Parker also goes to Sugar Bowl Academy and recently claimed a win and a third on the Sugar Bowl course as she builds for Lillehammer.

BIATHLON: Jethro Mahon (16, Kew East, VIC, 3102) – Mahon has been training and competing in Italy with the Australian Team and esteemed coach Luca Bormolini. Having first competed in shooting, Mahon moved on to biathlon and hasn’t looked back.

Darcie Morton (15, East Gippsland, VIC, 3909) – Darcie is the daughter of Cameron Morton who competed at the 2006 Torino Olympic Games in biathlon. She spent the end of 2015 at a biathlon focused school in Italy.

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING: Liam Burton (17, Jindabyne East, NSW, 2627) – When not on the snow, Burton competes at a high level in triathlon which has ensured he has kept fit in the lead-up to Lillehammer.

Lilly Boland (16, Ulladulla, NSW, 2539) – Like Burton, Lillehammer 2016 will give Boland the chance to compete overseas for the first time. She will compete at the Austrian and Swiss Championships before heading north to Lillehammer.

ICE HOCKEY (skills challenge): Madison Poole (15, Perth, WA, 6030) – Poole finished third at the qualification event in Finland and will compete against the same athletes at the Games. She has held multiple junior records in speed skating.

Jake Riley (15, Adelaide, SA, 5038) – Riley qualified tenth in Finland and is hoping the event may give him the opportunity to head to North America to pursue his ice hockey dreams.

FREESTYLE SKIING: Cameron Waddell (16, Jindabyne, NSW, 2627) – Waddell will be following the footsteps of older brother Thomas who competed at the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games in ski halfpipe. He will also contest the slopestyle in Lillehammer.

Doug Crawford - Ski Cross (17, Mansfield, VIC, 4122) – He first put on skis when he was two and eventually got into freestyle skiing. He only took up ski cross when he was 16, highlighting his rapid progression in the sport.

Zali Offord - Ski Cross (17, Helensburgh, NSW, 2508) - Named after another famous skier Zali Stegall, Offord is adept in both ski cross and alpine skiing

LUGE: Beth Slade (15, Caves Beach, NSW, 2281) – A netball player and surf lifesaver, Slade only began luge in March 2015 when Olympian and family friend Hannah Campbell-Pegg took her to Lake Placid to try the sport out. She qualified from only four Junior World Cup events and has huge potential.

SHORT TRACK SPEED SKATING: Julia Moore (17, Melbourne, VIC, 3166) – Moore trains regularly with the national team in Melbourne and will be competing overseas for the first time in Lillehammer.

SNOWBOARD: Alex Dickson (17, Avonside, NSW, 2628) – The 2015 national junior snowboard cross champion spent a month training in Pitzal, Austria in November, before returning to Australia and then leaving for North America to finalise his Lillehammer preparations in January.

Mollie Fernandez (17, Geelong, VIC, 3220) – Fernandez took up snowboarding when she was six and after ten years perfecting her skill she made her first Junior World Championships in 2015 when she claimed 29th in Yabuli, China.

Emily Arthur (16, Sydney, NSW, 2233) – Arthur competed at the 2015 World Championships (senior) when she was just 15 alongside the likes of her idol Torah Bright and Holly Crawford in the halfpipe. She will also contest the slopestyle at the Youth Olympics.

Mahalah Mullins (17, Albury, NSW, 2640) – Mullins recorded her first top ten result at a World Cup event in January when she finished ninth in the slopestyle at Mammoth Mountain. Mullins was a reserve for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Team. She will also contest the halfpipe.

Andrew Reid and Matt Bartolo

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