Dale Begg-Smith’s victory in the moguls and Alisa Camplin’s third in the aerials at the Turin Games left Australia just shy of the dual gold picked up in Salt Lake City four years ago.
But two now appears to be the common theme. “We’ve done it two Games in a row, it’s hard to go back on that,” Australia’s chef de mission Ian Chesterman said. “I think two (medals) is a benchmark we’ll have to live with.”
Team management was pleased with the team’s return at these Games, given one medal was the stated aim beforehand. Coupled with the two medals were four more top eight results, rounding out a solid overall performance.
Yet across 40 athletes and 10 disciplines there were some wildly varying results with the inevitable disappointments. Alpine skiing, biathlon and cross country headed the disappointing list while the short track speedskaters failed to kick on from Steven Bradbury’s shock gold medal of four years previous.
Chesterman indicated there would be a further emphasis placed on sports where Australia was more likely to pick up medals. Following on from AOC president John Coates, Chesterman said that short track speedskating would be a key sport with the aim of taking a women’s relay team to Vancouver in 2010.
“Astrid Loch-Wilkinson and Kylie Reed, Australia’s first Olympic women’s bobsleigh representatives did an outstanding job to finish 14th,” he said. “Nick Fisher (12th in freestyle moguls), Manuela Berchtold (14th in freestyle moguls), Emanuel Oppliger (15th in snowboard PGS), Michelle Steele (13th in skeleton) and Emily Rosemond (12th in the 1000m short track), all demonstrated the growing depth of our team’s performances across a range of sports.”
Vancouver, he said, would likely be a happy hunting ground for the Australians because so many winter athletes had spent time there and there was also a large ex-pat population. The AOC spent almost $6.2 million on the winter team over the past four years; $4.1 million to prepare the team and further $2.1 million to send the team to these Games.
Melbourne is now set to be the home of a new multi-purpose winter sports centre which has been unveiled as part of a $60 million boost in funding from the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC). The centre will contain facilities for sports ranging from speed skating and short track to ice hockey and curling.