Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Winter Olympics

Competing first in 1936, Australia has participated in all Winter Olympics except St Moritz in 1948.
Kenneth Kennedy was the sole Australian in the 1936 Winter Olympics at Garmisch- Partenkirchen, where he came in 29th in the speed skating.
In 1952 there were nine Australian winter Olympians, with Colin Hickey ranked 10th in the 500 metre speed skating. By 1960 the team had grown to 31, but this fell off to three in 1968, slowly increasing since then to eight in 1976 when Colin Coates was 6th in the 1000 metre speed skating, to 11 in 1984 and 23 in 1992.
Australia’s first Winter Olympics medal, a bronze, was won by Steven Bradbury, Kieran Hansen, Andrew Murtha, Richard Nizielski at Lillehammer, Norway in 1994 in the men’s 5000 metre short-track relay speed skating event. Zali Steggall earned Australia’s first individual medal in 1998 with a bronze in the slalom event.
In 2002, Steven Bradbury won gold in the 1000 metre short-track speed skating ie. after running last for most of the race and eventually crossing the finish line first after the rest of the field crashed on the last bend.

"Doing a Bradbury" is now a part of Australian English and obviously means coming from behind to win. Alisa Camplin won gold in the aerials event too, making Australia the only southern hemisphere country to have ever accomplished gold at a Winter Olympics.
Australia sent 40 athletes to compete in 10 sports at the 2006 Games in Turin—a record number of participants and events for the nation. For the first time, there was a stated aim of winning a medal, and this goal was achieved when Dale Begg-Smith won the gold medal in men’s freestyle skiing. Alisa Camplin gained her second medal, a bronze in the aerials event.
This year in Vancouver we have about 40 athletes.
As you can imagine winter sports are not mainstream in this country although we do have a number of skiing areas in the mountains of New South Wales and Victoria.
But sport is sport and our satellite TV company has offered four channels of continuous live broadcast of all Olympic events over the seventeen days. Normally I would be happy to watch some highlights on the daily news but the co-driver loves her figure skating so we have 'invested'.
We do have some difference of opinion on whether figure skating is actually a sport. She says it definitely is. I think it's more entertainment and I always have a problem with competitions that are based on subjective criteria, in this case judges' opinions (and bias). Higher, faster, longer, more goals etc. I understand. I know diving, boxing, gymnastics et al all fall under this system. Anyway this subject always creates a lot of banter and I am sure it will come up a few times over the next two weeks.
Anyway suffice to say we will be glued to the TV for a while. I am looking forward to the speed skating as well as all those luge type events, not to mention figure skaters falling over.
There is also a conflict of interest as the Rugby season also starts on the same day and the cricket competition continues.
AAAAAHHHHHHHH....when too much sport is not nearly enough!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ahhhh....the things you do to keep me happy! :o)

And.....skating IS a sport.

-the co-driver-