The $6.5 million International Freestyle Skiing Training Facility is a collaboration between the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia (OWIA) the Federal Government through Sport Australia, the Queensland Government and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC).
The Queensland Government will provide the location adjacent to the Olympic sized swimming pool at Chandler, with total funding for the facility from the Federal Government and AOC.
The centre will host elite aerial and mogul skiers, athletes of all ages and abilities seeking to develop in these disciplines, and overseas sports tourists.
Queensland has a unique Winter Olympic heritage, with Brisbane’s Steven Bradbury famously claiming Australia’s first ever Winter Games gold at Salt Lake City in 2002. With aerial and mogul skiers providing eight of Australia’s 15 medals in Winter Olympics, including three gold, this facility will see Queensland as the development hub for future Olympic champions.
The project will be managed by the OWIA, who have been instrumental in securing this Australian-first facility. OWIA Chair Geoff Henke AO says the go-ahead is a tremendous boost for Winter Olympic sport in Australia.
“I am excited this facility will come to fruition and continue to develop Australian freestyle skiers of all ages and abilities.
“At the elite level this will eliminate a competitive disadvantage, allowing Australian athletes to train at home that provides a critical edge. It also provides a talent pathway to identify and develop talent from the grassroots up to ensure Winter Sports continue to grow.
“After working to develop this project for a long time, my heartfelt thanks go to the Federal Government and AOC for the funding, the Queensland Government who have provided a home for this world-class facility and the Australian institute of Sport for ongoing support in developing winter athletes.”
Federal Sports Minister Senator Bridget McKenzie says the Government’s $4.5 million contribution creates the opportunity for Australia to produce the next generation of Olympic champions to join the likes of Alisa Camplin, Dale Beg-Smith and Lydia Lassila.
“This facility will be a game-changer for Australian winter sport,” Minister McKenzie said. “Our Australian winter athletes have been so successful in freestyle skiing despite their training disadvantages, and they have inspired the next generation of participants in skiing – and hopefully producing more Olympic heroes.
“The Liberal and Nationals Government, along with peak sport agencies Sport Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport, are proud to support this project that will give future athletes a world-leading facility at home.”
Queensland Sports Minister Mick de Brenni MP says the water ramp is a perfect addition to the Sleeman Sports Centre which already provides a training base for community, emerging and elite athletes across a wide range of sports.
“Brisbane’s fantastic climate means this facility can be used year-round, making it the premier Winter Olympic training venue for the region and one of only two in the world available 12 months of the year,” he said.
“Not only will this cater for Australia’s Winter Olympic athletes, it will attract international teams to Queensland to train at this facility, ensuring year-round use and an additional revenue stream for the complex.”
AOC Chief Executive Officer Matt Carroll says significant investment from the Federal Government, the Queensland Government’s contribution of the site and the AOC’s own financial contribution is a shot in the arm for aspiring athletes and future Winter Olympians.
“This project is a great example of a partnership between sport and government delivering positive outcomes,” Carroll said.
“Australian athletes have logged thousands of training days at overseas facilities in the past five years – this ramp means the country’s best talent can be identified, developed and reach their peak performance right here at home, inspiring countless Australians while being close to family and their community. This is time and funding that will be invested here in Australia rather than at overseas facilities.
“A series of different sized ramps will be available for a variety of standards. It will provide the opportunity for our athletes to train ahead of the next Winter Olympic Games in Beijing in 2022 and beyond.”
Five-time Olympian and aerials gold medallist Lydia Lassila was excited at the benefits the ramp, which will see athletes reach speeds of up to 70km/h and launch 17 metres in the air.
“This ramp will be incredible for winter sport in Australia,” Lassila said. “It means having more people participating in the sport, funding going to athlete development rather than travel costs and allowing athletes to spend more time in the country rather than 10 months a year overseas.
“Having that home base is so important – both for performance and to provide for a more balanced life close to your family and support group.
“This ramp will be the best in the world and showcase the spectacular feats of winter athletes – having Australian kids see Winter Olympians in action in the flesh will make it so much more tangible and help inspire our next generation.”
The Sleeman Sports Centre boasts an Olympic-sized pool, accommodation, gymnastic centre, fitness centre and athlete rehabilitation as well as the Anna Meares velodrome and BMX track, making it a hub for talent development and performance for current and future Olympians.
OWIA will work closely with Stadiums Queensland to manage the facility.
Colliers International is managing construction of the water ramp, with work expected to begin mid-2019, with practical completion due early 2020.