Australia has a strong history in freestyle skiing winning medals at Salt Lake City 2002, Torino 2006 and Vancouver 2010.
Women’s aerials have been the particular strength throughout this time. It began when Kirstie Marshall placed sixth in women’s aerials at Lillehammer 1994.
At Salt Lake City in 2002, Alisa Camplin from Melbourne scored a total of 193.47pts in the final to become the Olympic aerials champion and also Australia’s first skiing gold medallist. The Salt Lake Games also saw tragedy when, in the week before the competition, Jacqui Cooper shattered her knee in training. It also saw the arrival of a young Lydia Lassila (then Ierodiaconou) who placed eighth in the final.
Four years later in Torino, Camplin on the comeback from serious injury produced another sensational performance to take bronze. Cooper who had broken the world record in the preliminaries finished eighth and this time it was tragedy for Lassila, who shattered her knee in the preliminary rounds while in podium form.
Lassila made a truly fairytale comeback in Vancouver in 2010. Four years of hard work after the knee injury that ended her Torino campaign, she landed two outstanding jumps in heavy fog at the final on Cypress Mountain, to win with an Olympic record total score of 214.74. Jacqui Cooper finished in fifth place in her fifth Olympic Games.
In the moguls, Australia has been strongly represented by the men. The four-time Olympian, Adrian Costa, placed 14th at both the Albertville 1992 and Lillehammer 1994 Games. Nick Cleaver’s 11th place at Albertville was the best Aussie result until Dale Begg-Smith crushed the opposition at Torino to become Australia’s third Winter Olympic gold medallist. Begg-Smith, who suffered a serious knee injury in 2009, returned to his birth town of Vancouver to attempt to defend his title at the 2010 Games. Begg-Smith finished with a final score of 26.58 to snag the silver medal, just behind local hero Alexandre Bilodeau on a score of 26.75.
Ski cross made its Olympic debut in Vancouver with a strong showing by Australian skiers. Scott Kneller placed seventh in the men’s event, and Jenny Owens and Katya Crema both progressed to the quarter-finals in the women’s.