What Australia’s Success at the Winter Olympics Does (and Doesn’t) Tell You

What Australia’s Success on the Winter Olympics Does (and Doesn’t) Inform You

The Australia Letter is a weekly e-newsletter from our Australia bureau. Sign up to get it by e-mail. This week’s challenge is written by Manan Luthra, an intern with the Australia bureau.

On Sunday, the 2022 Winter Olympics will conclude. For Crew Australia, its medal tally is small however vital. It has received 4 as of Friday, its most ever within the Winter Video games, placing Australia seventeenth on the medals desk, six spots greater than its closing place in 2018. The haul contains a variety of firsts for the nation. Jakara Anthony’s gold in girls’s moguls, Jaclyn Narracott’s silver in girls’s skeleton, and Tess Coady’s bronze in girls’s slopestyle are the primary Olympic medals Australia has received in these disciplines.

Watching all of the Australians medal throughout a heat Sydney summer season was each jarring and thrilling. Our nation is often obsessive about sports activities that lend themselves to our hotter climate — cricket, tennis, swimming. Is that altering? May Australia truly grow to be extra of a snow sport nation? On the Olympics and simply on the whole?

The Australian Olympic staff’s marketing campaign started on fertile floor. Even earlier than the 44-member contingent left for China, news of the rivals’ sturdy particular person 2021 seasons and record-high feminine illustration garnered native excitement, as did the Olympic debut of the curling and monobob groups. By the fourth day of the Video games, Jakara Anthony and Tess Coady had received their two medals, giving Australia its greatest begin in a Winter Olympics. A silver medal within the males’s halfpipe occasion, received 5 days later by Scotty James, drew Australia even with its earlier greatest Winter Olympics efficiency. Narracott’s silver medal then pushed the delegation into unfamiliarly profitable territory.

Three different Australians fell simply wanting including to the medal haul: Belle Brockhoff completed fourth in snowboarding, Bree Walker ended up fifth in bobsled, and Laura Peel additionally completed fifth, in aerial snowboarding.

All of these victories and shut performances performed out earlier than enormous audiences again house, on tv at the least. Seven West Media, Australia’s official broadcaster of the Video games, was the most-watched free-to-air network for the occasion’s first week; throughout that point, over 500,000 households watched Olympic protection day by day. And it wasn’t simply tv crowds who had been getting in on the motion. Watch parties organized by Snow Australia introduced former athletes and winter sports activities lovers collectively to benefit from the Video games.

However what does all this imply for Australian snow sports activities?

On a global stage, Australia’s accomplishments have led to recognition that its winter athletes are world-class. Snow Australia’s chief govt, Michael Kennedy, instructed me that Australia’s victories made “the world arise and take discover. As a result of our success was throughout so many occasions, significantly within the first 4 days of the Olympics, the world revered — and does respect — Australia as a winter sport nation.”

Nearer to house, although, the popularity is a bit more restricted. Geoff Lipshut, the highest official for Australia’s Olympic groups in China, mentioned that winter sports activities aren’t one thing Australians “do plenty of.” Positive, Olympic occasions improve curiosity in them, however their time within the public consciousness is short-lived after the Video games conclude. Aside from Steven Bradbury, who famously received a gold medal in speedskating 20 years in the past as a result of all the competitors in front of him fell down, it’s troublesome for many Australians to simply identify a serious second in winter sports activities historical past.

My makes an attempt to contact somebody who had been actively watching the Video games had been unsuccessful — some had skimmed headlines or glanced at highlights, however nobody watched extra occasions than they did in the course of the Summer season Video games final 12 months.

What, then, is required to carry the profile of snow sports activities in Australia? If placing extra of Australia’s winter athletes on tv is the reply, there isn’t a lot time left. Australia will compete in solely three extra occasions earlier than the Video games finish: the two-woman bobsled, males’s 50-kilometer freestyle snowboarding and ladies’s 30-kilometer freestyle snowboarding.

If the reply lies in getting extra Australians to learn to ski, they greatest act rapidly, at the least in the event that they wish to begin this 12 months. Kennedy mentioned that basic managers of Australian ski resorts are reporting a spike in curiosity, three and a half months earlier than the nation’s winter season begins, although it’s exhausting to inform if that has extra to do with the easing of pandemic journey restrictions or the Olympics.

In the end, watching this 12 months’s Video games was an odd expertise for me. More often than not, I had no thought what was happening; my primary data of snow sports activities, predominantly based mostly on films like “Cool Runnings” and a disastrous snowboarding trip in 2012, most likely didn’t assist. However seeing the breadth of Australian expertise turning, halfpiping, and moguling was fascinating. Why are these athletes, and the occasions they compete in, so simply forgotten in Australia? Why is the nation’s legacy throughout all snow sports activities pinned to Steven Bradbury, whose success has been thought-about a fluke, a bit of excellent luck?

If in case you have concepts for methods to assist snow sports activities achieve extra recognition in Australia, write to us at [email protected].

Now for the tales of the week:

Source link