Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman is thrilled with the success of the small Australian Youth Olympic Team at the Lillehammer Games in Norway.
“Five of the 17 athletes are taking home medals and a total of 11 top 10 performances,” Chesterman said.
“It's an outstanding result from the next generation of winter sport athletes.
“In 1994 Australia won its first winter Olympic medal. 22 years later we leave here with five. While these are Youth Games medals they continue to tell the story of about our development as a winter sport nation.”
Julia Moore winning the silver medal in the short track speed skating mixed team relay on Saturday, added to the three silver and one bronze won in standard Olympic events. Full story here >>>
Emily Arthur started the medal count with silver in the snowboard halfpipe on day 2. And on day 3 Australians won a remarkable three medals, plus also claimed a fourth and a sixth place finish. Alex Dickson won silver in snowboard cross, Zali Offord silver in ski cross and Louis Muhlen bronze in ski cross.
Offord was selected by Chesterman to carry the flag in Sunday night’s Closing Ceremony (Monday morning AUS).
“The flag bearer is a silver medallist who has represented Australian beautifully on and off the snow and has been a great leader in our Team. Zali this is your flag,” Chesterman said at the Team dinner.
The skier who was named after 1998 Olympic bronze medallist Zali Steggell overcame serious adversity to get to the start line. She had a serious crash while racing at the end of January which forced her off the snow for 15 days and she had just enough to time train and prepare for racing.
“It’s a just such an honour. It’s such a great bunch of guys and there’s 17 of us and to be named out of them is really cool,” Offord said.
“When you see other teams and you see us Aussies you know that we have really bonded. We’ve all represented the country really well and we are now all friends for life.”
Lillehammer was where it all began for Australian winter sport back at the 1994 Olympic Games. Steven Bradbury, Richard Nizielski, Andrew Murtha and Kieran Hansen won bronze, with reserve John Kah also part of the team. This medal was Australia’s first at an Olympic winter Games and that streak of medals has continued at every Games since.
“A total of 12 Olympic medals and seven Youth Games medals can't be ignored. I am very proud to have led this team which has excelled on and off the field of play,” said Chesterman, who was also part of the 1994 Team.
When talking to all Australian athletes the overwhelming consensus is that the athletes don’t want the experience to end and they are all motivated to work harder towards senior success.
Details of medals and top 10 performances:
5 Australian Medals at Lillehammer 2016
SILVER - Emily Arthur - W Halfpipe (Sunday 14 Feb)
SILVER - Alex Dickson - M Snowboard Cross (Monday 15 Feb)
SILVER - Zali Offord - W Ski Cross (Monday 15 Feb)
SILVER - Julia Moore - Mixed Team Short Track Relay (Saturday 20 Feb)
BRONZE - Louis Muhlen - M Ski Cross (Monday 15 Feb)
6 additional top 10 results
4th - Mollie Fernandez – W Snowboard Cross
5th - Madison Poole – W Ice Hockey Skills Challenge
5th - Alex Dickson, Mollie Fernandez, Zali Offord, Doug Crawford: Team Ski-Snowboard Cross:
5th – Mahalah Mullins – W Snowboard Slopestyle
6th – Doug Crawford – M Ski Cross
9th - Cameron Waddell – M Freestyle Skiing: Halfpipe
9th - Jake Riley – M Ice Hockey Skills Challenge
All Australian Results, News, Athlete Bios and Media here >>>
IMAGE: Zali Offord leading the pack in one of her ski cross races at the Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympic Games. She went on to claim the silver med. © Youth Information Services / IOC