Speed Skating

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Australia and Olympic Speed Skating

Speed skater Kenneth Kennedy was the first Australian Winter Olympian when he competed at Garmisch-Partenkirchen Games in 1936. He competed in the 500m, 1500m and 5000m, placing 29th, 33rd and 33rd respectively.

In 1952, the brilliant reign of the colourful character Colin Hickey began. He sold newspapers to save enough money to buy his first pair of skates and took a ship to Norway at the age of 18 to train in the speed skating hub. He represented Australia at three consecutive Games; Oslo 1952, Cortina D’Ampezzo 1956 and Squaw Valley 1960. In 1956 he achieved Australia’s best Olympic result in the 500m and 1500m, placing seventh in both events.

Australia’s best performance came from Colin Coates, a speed skater who had received training from Hickey. At Innsbruck 1976, he finished sixth in the 10,000m. He also finished eighth in the 1500m, 10th in the 5000m, 11th in the 1000m and 23rd in the 500m. He was then 29, competing in his third Olympics. He went on to represent Australia a record six times by Calgary 1988, capping a 20 year Olympic career with his fastest 10,000 metres ever.

Sophie Muir made history at Vancouver 2010 as Australia’s first female speed skater. Muir was an inline skater and switched to the ice at the age of 25 and produced huge results to be selected for Vancouver just over a year later. Muir contested the 500m and 1000m finishing 29th and 30th respectively.

Daniel Grieg was Australia’s sole speed skater at Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018. Grieg had a character building Olympic debut in 2014 after he suffered every skater's worst nightmare when he fell in the opening seconds of his first 500m race - his pet event that he won a World Championship medal in just weeks before the Games – resulting in a 39th place finish. However he turned his performance around with a great 1000m race to finish 22nd.

After a string of injuries post Sochi, which threatened to end his career, Greig bounced back for PyeongChang to improve on his 500m result by 18 places and equal his personal best result for the 100m.The Victorian skater based in the Netherlands claimed 21st in the 500m and again finished 22nd in the 1000m

Olympic History

Long track speed skating, known colloquially as “speed skating” made its debut on the Olympic program at the first Games at Chamonix 1924 and has remained on the program ever since. All the early events, the 500m, 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m were for men. Women’s events were added to the program at the 1960 Games in Squaw Valley.

At the first Games there was also an event called the “omnium” which did not involve a competition, but rather awarded a title to the skater with the best overall results in the four events. This event was dropped after the Chamonix Games. A men’s 1000m was added at Innsbruck 1976.

Sport Format

With the addition of the Mass Start event at PyeongChang 2018, Speed skating consists of 14 events, which is the most number of events per sport at the Winter Olympic Games. They are the 500m, 1000m, 1500m, 5000m and Mass-Start for both men and women, 10,000m for men, 3000m for women and team pursuit for men and women.

Speed skating is held on a 400m oval rink with skaters racing in lanes and in pairs. Their times are recorded and the best times over the distance win the medals. The pairs racing features a crossover each lap in which racers change lanes, hence eliminating the advantage of drawing an inside berth. As you would expect, strict rules oversee these crossovers to ensure there is no interference. Turns are also common areas for interference. A skater who is interfered with during the race receives the option to skate the distance again.

All events are skated once, with the exception of the men's and women's 500 metres, which are skated twice. The final result in the 500m is based on the total time of two races.

Snowboard

Submitted by admin on Sun, 06/30/2019 - 11:45
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Australia and Olympic Snowboard 

Australia was represented at the Winter Olympics by Zeke Steggall when snowboarding made its debut at Nagano 1998. Competing in the giant slalom he placed 28th from a field of 34. He went on to represent Australia at Salt Lake City 2002, achieving a place of 26th in Parallel Giant Slalom.

At Torino 2006, Australia greatly increased its snowboard contingent, taking nine athletes. Torah Bright, Holly Crawford, Johanna Shaw and Emily Thomas became Australia's first Olympic female representatives with Bright the best placed finishing fifth in the halfpipe. Damon Hayler was the best placed male, finishing seventh in the snowboard cross.

Vancouver 2010 was Australia’s most successful Winter Olympics and Bright won Australia’s first snowboard medal – gold in the women’s halfpipe. The girl from Cooma qualified for the final in first place but crashed out in her first run, earning a mere 5.9 points. Posting the lowest score, Bright was forced to face the pipe first in the second run but produced a crisp run with five near-perfect trick executions, earning her a huge score of 45.00 that no other rider was able to match.

At the Sochi 2014, Bright again secured a medal for Australia also becoming the first competitor to compete in three Snowboard events at the same Games, taking on the Slopestyle and Snowboard Cross in addition to the Halfpipe. At the age of 27, Bright secured the silver medal in the women's halfpipe just 0.25 points behind 24-year-old Kaitlyn Farrington (USA) who won gold.

At the PyeongChang 2018 Games, the battle of the pipe was on again with 2017 World Champion Scotty James looking to take on American legend Shaun White. James came away with the bronze medal for Australia with a top score of 92.00 in the final, with White claiming gold with an untouchable 97.75 and Japan's Ayumu Hirano coming in second with a score of 95.25. 

Sport Format

There are five snowboard events on the Olympic program for men and women.

Parallel Giant Slalom
The parallel slalom involves two riders racing down the same slope on two parallel courses, outlined with gates and triangular flags, blue on the left course and red on the right course. The setting of the courses, the terrain and snow coverage must be as identical as possible. 


There are 32 men and 32 women, who can each contest the event. After two qualifying runs, a 16-person head-to-head competition is established in which riders compete in two side-by-side courses. All parallel finals heats consist of two runs. The competitors change courses for the second run.

The loser of the first run starts with a time delay, which corresponds to his or her time behind the winner of the first run. A competitor, who does not start, does not finish or is disqualified in the first run, starts the second run with the penalty time delay.

Finals consist of 1/8 finals (8 pairs), quarter-finals (4 pairs), semi-finals (2 pairs), consolation rounds 5th–8th (2 pairs), and finals (2 pairs): a small and big final (bronze and gold medal rounds), classifications 5th–6th place, classifications 7th–8th place. The winners of the 1/8 final heats qualify to the quarter-finals. The winners of the quarter-finals qualify to the semi-finals. The winners of the semi-finals qualify to the big final (gold and silver medal). The losers of the semi-finals qualify to the small final (bronze medal).

Snowboard Cross
Snowboard Cross is a fast and furious event that includes manoeuvring down a challenging course with jumps and obstacles. Its name is derived from combining halfpipe and PGS and makes reference to cross-country.

There are 40 men and 24 women in snowboard cross. All athletes will complete two seeding runs (TBC) individually to get their ranking for the head to head racing.

In the men’s events, there are five phases of head to head racing. In the 1/8 finals, there are 5 men, with the top 3 progressing. In each following phase there are 6 men in each race, with the top 3 progressing. The Big Final has 6 men, with the top 3 winning medals.

In the women’s events there are four phases of head to head racing with six athletes in each race. The Big Final has 6 women, with the top 3 winning medals.

Snowboard Halfpipe
One competitor at a time performs a routine of acrobatic jumps, flips, twists and other manoeuvres on a halfpipe. The athletes are judged on their take-offs, the height they reach above the top of the pipe, and difficulty/ execution of their tricks.

There are three phases of the competition – heats, semi-final and final. Scores do not carry over.

In the qualification phase there are 40 men and 30 women. There are two qualification runs with the top 3 men and women in each heat qualifying directly for the finals. Competitors ranked 4th – 9th in each heat advance to the semi-finals.  In the semi-finals there are two runs with the top 6 men and women qualifying for the finals.

There are two runs in the final phase. In the first run, competitors go down in the reverse order of their rank (Q2 and then Q1). In the second run, competitors go down in the reverse order of their first final run rank). Each athlete’s top score from the two final runs determines their placing and the medals.

Snowboard Slopestyle
Slopestyle courses feature rails, jibs, hips and a variety of jumps allowing skiers to combine big air and technical tricks into one run. Competitors are scored in an overall impression judging format on amplitude, execution, difficulty of line, landing and use of the course.

There are two phases of the competition – qualification and final. Scores do not carry over from qualification to the final.

In snowboard slopestyle there are 30 male and 24 female competitors. In the qualification round, the top 8 men and women go straight to the final. The remaining athletes battle it out in the semi-final. In the semi-final, the top 4 advance to the final. In the final there are 12 competitors with the top three results being awarded the medals.

Big Air
The new kid on the block, the snowboard discipline of 'Big Air' made it's debut at the PyeongChang 2018 Games. Similar to ski jumping, athletes will try to get as much air as possible while also landing massive tricks. 

Big air snowboarding evolved from events like freestyle snowboarding, and its inclusion in the 2018 Olympics comes after the halfpipe and slopestyle were added in 1998 and 2014, respectively. Big air snowboarders are evaluated not on how high they go, but on their execution of tricks while in the air.

There are two phases of the competition – qualification and final. Scores do not carry over from qualification to the final.

In snowboard slopestyle there are 18 male and 18 female competitors. In the qualification round, the top 6 men and women go straight to the final. The remaining athletes battle it out in the semi-final. In the semi-final, the top 6 advance to the final. In the final there are 12 competitors with the top three results being awarded the medals.

Snowboard was added to the Olympic program for the first time at Nagano 1998 with giant slalom and halfpipe events for both men and women. At Salt Lake 2002 the alpine event of parallel giant slalom replaced the giant slalom event. Snowboard cross made its Olympic debut at Torino 2006. At the Sochi 2014 Games, parallel slalom was reintroduced as well as snowboard slopestyle.

For the PyeongChang 2018 Games, parallel slalom was removed from the program and a new sport of 'Big Air' was added. 

 

Ski Jumping

Submitted by admin on Sun, 06/30/2019 - 11:44
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Australia and Olympic Ski Jumping

Australia is yet to make an Olympic debut in ski jumping. The closest an Australian has come to competing in the event was with Hal Nerdal in 1960 who took part in the 60m jump as part of the Nordic Combined event. 

Olympic History

Ski jumping has been on the program of every Winter Games. In Chamonix 1924, the men's Normal Hill (70m) was contested. In Innsbruck in 1964, the Large Hill (90m) was added to the program and in Calgary 1988, a men's team event (90m) was included. From 1994 onwards the scale of the hills changed with the Normal Hill being 90m and the Large Hill being 120m. The team event also used the large 120m hill. Women’s ski jumping will be contested for the first time at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, with one event - the Normal Hill (90m).

Since its introduction to the Olympic Games program, the ski jumping competition has been dominated by the Scandinavian countries where ski-jumping originated. Simon Amman from Switzerland however won both of the individual events in 2002 and 2010.

Sport Format

Ski jumping, with athletes travelling the length of a football field through the air and then landing on the snow, is one of the most spectacular winter sports. It is a tricky blend of nerves, sheer power and a nearly scientific application of basic flight properties.

Jumping competitions are decided by a combination of points for distance and style. Points for distance are determined by the length reached in relation to the jump’s critical (K) point. Five judges award each jumper up to 20 points for style. Each competitor jumps twice, with the gold medal going to the jumper with the greatest aggregate points.
 
Jumpers glide down the in-run in a tucked position and at the end of the jump they launch their body further forward so they appear almost parallel to the ground in flight. They do not have ski poles to assist with acceleration. The skis are held in a ‘V-position’ during the flight, which is proven to be the most aerodynamic position. After about five seconds in the air, skiers land in a telemark position, where one ski is placed in front of the other, knees are bent, the body pressed forward and the movement smooth and precise. A jumper holds this position on the early part of the outrun but relaxes once he crosses the fall line, a marker on the outrun which signals the jump has ended.
 
Normal Hill Individual - Men and Women
The Normal Hill has a K-point between 75 and 99 metres. All athletes participate in a qualification round and 50 athletes advance through to the first round. After the first round the field is reduced to 30 athletes for the final round. From this round the athlete with the highest total score from these two jumps is declared the winner.

Large Hill Individual - Men
This event is contested on the large hill, which has a K-point larger than 100 metres. Like the individual normal hill there is a qualification round and 50 athletes advance to the first round. In the final round the field is reduced to 30 athletes. There are two jumps (first and final round), and the athlete with the highest total score is declared the winner.

Large Hill Team - Men
This event is usually contested on the large hill. There are four members on each team, and there are two jumps (first and final round). In the first round all teams start. In the final round the field is reduced to the eight best teams. The team with the highest total score over the eight jumps is declared the winner.

Skeleton

Submitted by admin on Sun, 06/30/2019 - 11:36
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Australia and Olympic Skeleton

Michelle Steele and Shaun Boyle become Australia's first Olympic skeleton representatives when they competed at the Torino Games in 2006. Steele finished 13th and Boyle 22nd. Steele made her World Cup debut in 2005, just 13 weeks after trying the sport.

The high performance skeleton program from the Australian Institute of Sport has targeted beach sprinters and track athletes producing a number of strong Australian competitors. In Vancouver, there were three Australian athletes: Anthony Deane who finished 23rd in the men’s competition and Emma Lincoln-Smith and Melissa Hoar who finished 10th and 12th respectively in the women’s. 

At the Sochi 2014 Games, Michelle Steele and Lucy Chaffeur finished 14th and 17th in the women’s event, while John Farrow secured Australia’s best male result of 17th.

Farrow returned four years on, finishing 19th at the PyeongChang 2018 Games and was joined by Olympic debutant Jackie Narracott who finished 17th in her first Games. Narracott was following in the footsteps of her uncle Paul who was the first Australian to compete at both a Summer (Los Angeles 1984 - Athletics) and Winter (Albertville 1992 – Bobsleigh) Games

Sport Format

Skeleton is held on the same course as the bobsleigh and luge (1200m) disciplines. Skeleton events consist of four heats run over two days, with the gold medal going to the competitor with the best aggregate time. Runs are timed electronically to 0.01 seconds with competitors travelling as fast as 130km/hr. Only the prone position is allowed, although competitors, who come off the sled temporarily, are not disqualified if they cross the finish line back on the sled.

To gain momentum, the athlete pushes the sled at the start before diving into a prone position. Athletes use spiked shoes to help them grip the ice while exploding at the start. Like in luge, the temperature of the runners are carefully monitored to ensure no-one is trying to juice their sled.

Skeleton was part of the Winter Olympics in 1928 and 1948, both times in St Moritz, the Swiss town which was the birthplace of the daredevil sport back in the 1800s.

At Salt Lake 2002, the men’s event returned to the official program and for the first time a women’s event was included.

Short Track Skating

Submitted by admin on Sun, 06/30/2019 - 11:34
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Australia and Olympic Short Track Speed Skating

Australia has a great record in short track speed skating. At Lillehammer 1994, Australia won its first Winter Olympic medal with a bronze in the 5000m relay. The quartet of Richard Nizielski, Steven Bradbury, Andrew Murtha and Kieran Hansen made history when they finished behind Italy and the United States in the final.

For more than half of the 45 lap race there was nothing between the four squads. Then with twenty-one laps to go, a Canadian lost his edge and crashed into the side. At the twelve lap mark, the Italian 500 metre world recorder holder, Mirko Vuillermin accelerated, giving his team the winning break. It seemed that Australia would win silver, however the power of the United States team emerged and they raced away to finish second.

In 2002 in Salt Lake City, Bradbury at his fourth Games won Australia’s first Winter Olympic gold medal. In the 1000m the Queenslander took advantage of favourable circumstances. In the quarter and semi-finals, two competitors fell and the third was disqualified allowing him to sneak through to the final.

In the final, Bradbury dropped behind early and trailed the rest of the field by almost half a lap as they entered the last turn. A massive collision sent the other four finalists flying. As the only skater left standing, Bradbury crossed the finish line first and was awarded the gold medal.

Russian-born Tatiana Borodulina was Australia’s best performing skater at Vancouver 2010 although she fell short of the medals. She reached the B finals in both the 1000m and 1500m, with her best place being seventh in the 1000m.

Deanna Lockett was the best placed Australia short tracker at Sochi 2014, placing 9th in the women’s 1000m and 26th in the 1500m. Pierre Boda placed 30th in the men’s 500m on debut at Sochi.

Four years later Lockett returned to the ice for her second Games experience where she moved through to the semi-final of the 1500m, to finish 15th overall. Andy Jung made his Olympic debut at PyeongChang, finishing 24th in the men’s 500m and 16th in the 1500m.

Olympic History

Short track speed skating was a demonstration sport in 1988 when Great Britain’s Wilf O’Reilly won two golds. O’Reilly was of Irish and West Indian descent, an unlikely breeding ground for winter sports. It was officially introduced to the Olympic program at the Albertville Games in 1992. There was one individual and one relay event for both men and women. At Salt Lake 2002, men’s and women’s 1500m events were added to the program. 

Sport Format 

Races take place around an oval track (measuring around 111.12m) designed to fit inside an average ice rink. The bends are tight and “short trackers” skate close together counter-clockwise jockeying for position and trying to cover any attempted breaks with the pack. The odd clash and tumble are inevitable so the walls are heavily padded.

At the Olympic Games there are eight short track speed skating events. Although the aim is still to be the first across the line, speed takes a second place to tactics, especially in the heats.

Each individual event has 32 participants. Races feature four skaters at a time in a mass start. For the 500m and 1000m there are heats, quarterfinals, semifinals and an A and B final. The A final determines the medals and the B final positions 5 -8. For the 1500m there are heats, three semifinals and an A and B final.

A relay team comprises four members plus a reserve who can substitute in any heat or final. In general, skaters contest one and a half laps apiece in the relay and take multiple turns on the ice in any order. Changeovers can occur anywhere on the course by touch or push. There are eight teams in the relays contesting two semifinals and the top two teams in each advance to the final. 

Nordic Combined

Submitted by admin on Sun, 06/30/2019 - 11:30
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Australia and Olympic Nordic Combined

Hal Nerdal represented Australia in Nordic combined at the 1960 Games in Squaw Valley and there hasn’t been another Australian achieve this feat since. Nerdal participated in the 60m jump and the 15 kilometre cross country, gaining 332.387pts and placing 31st overall.

Olympic History

The Nordic combined title was considered the ultimate event of the early versions of the Olympic Winter Games. It appeared on the program of the first Games at Chamonix 1924 and has remained on the program ever since. The Nordic combined team event was added to the program at Calgary 1988.

The Gundersen Method has been used since Calgary 1988 and is named after its creator, Norway’s Gunnar Gundersen. It is used to determine the place startings for the cross-country. Once the jumping points are totalled, they are converted into time penalties. In brief, a 10 point lead provides for a one minute start. 

Sport Format

Nordic combined has its 5,000 year-old roots in Norway. All three Nordic combined events consist of a ski jumping competition and a cross-country skiing race.

Each nation can enter up to four competitors, who do not need to be the same in the individual and team competitions. There is no Nordic combined event for women.

Individual
This event consists of two scored ski jumps on the normal hill (90m) and a 15km cross-country ski race. Each jump is scored for length and style and the results determine the start order for the cross-country. The winner of the ski jumping competition starts in first place and the points from ski jumping are converted into time differences for the starting order of the cross-country race.

Sprint
The sprint event is contested with a ski jump on the large-hill (120m) and a 7.5km cross-country race. The start order for this race is determined on the basis of the ski jumping results. The winner of the ski jumping competition starts in first place and the points from ski jumping are converted into time differences for the starting order of the cross-country race.

Team
The event consists of two scored ski jumps from the large hill (120m) and a cross-country relay 4x5km freestyle race. Each team consists of four jumpers who take two jumps in the first part of the competition. The team's score in the jumping portion is the total score of the eight jumps. The same skiers who participate in the jumping must compete in the 4x5km relay and the start order is determined by ski jumping results. The winner is the team whose final skier crosses the finish line first.

Luge

Submitted by admin on Sun, 06/30/2019 - 11:28
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Australia and Olympic Luge 

Four Australians have competed at the Olympic Games in luge. Diana Ogle was the first Australian to represent her country in this sport. She competed at Albertville 1992 and flew down the track to place 21st from 24 contenders. At the following Olympics, Roger White became the first male to represent Australia, placing 32nd at Lillehammer 1994.

It was another 12 years before Hannah Campbell-Pegg took to the track, finishing 23rd at Torino in 2006. When she competed in Vancouver four years later, she became Australia’s first luge dual-Olympian, also finishing 23rd.

Young gun, Alex Ferlazzo became Australia’s fourth luge representative when he was selected to compete at the 2014 Sochi Games. A Youth Olympian who competed at the Innsbruck 2012 Games, Ferlazzo finished 33rd in his Olympic debut at just 19th years old.

Hailing from Townsville, Ferlazzo went on to compete at this second Olympic Games at PyeongChang 2018 where he again improved on his Olympic results finishing in 28th – Australia’s top male result.

Sport Format

The sport of luge involves competitors propelling the luge forward, at the start in a sitting position gathering speed by paddling their hands on the ice track and then lying back to wind their way down through the corners. 

There are four gold medals decided for luge: singles for men, singles for women, doubles for men and a mixed team relay. Singles competitions are decided on the aggregate time of four runs over two consecutive days, while doubles luge is a one-day competition of two runs.

In the team event, each country fields a men’s singles sled, a doubles sled and a women’s singles sled.. All three entrants from one team slide one after another with the clock stopping only after the third sled has crossed the finish line. A touch pad at the finish line must be activated by an athlete in one sled before the gate at the start line opens for the following team member to compete. The luge team relay made its first appearance in January 2012 at the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck and will be in the Olympics for the first time in Sochi 2014.

In all events, each run counts, and the fastest total time determines the winner.

Luge is one of two sports at the Winter Olympics (along with short track speed skating) that is timed to the thousandth of a second.The luge was included in the Winter Olympic program for the first time at Innsbruck 1964 and has remained on the program ever since. Women have competed in this event from the start, but so far only in singles, though following Albertville there have been no regulations preventing women from competing in doubles.

Ice Hockey

Submitted by admin on Sun, 06/30/2019 - 11:26
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Australia and Olympic Ice Hockey

Australia has qualified for ice hockey at the Winter Olympic Games - competing at Squaw Valley in 1960. The team scored ten goals and finished ninth, conceding 87 goals in six games. The valiant Australian team did their best for Australia: Ben Acton (Capt), Ron Amess, David Cunningham, Noel Derrick, Alfred Dewhurst, Vic Ekberg, Basil Hansen, Clive Hitch, Russell Jones, Noel McLoughlin, John Nicholas, Peter Parrott, Ken Pawsey, Robert Reid, John Thomas, Steve Tikal, Ivo Vesely, Ken Wellman and William McEachern as coach.

Although the national league is developing in Australia it may be another few Games before the local stars realise their Olympic dreams. 

Olympic History

The first Olympic Games to include ice hockey for men were the Antwerp Summer Games in 1920. Four years later it was part of the first Winter Olympic Games in Chamonix and has remained on the program ever since.

Women’s ice hockey made its debut at the Winter Olympics at Nagano 1998. In another first for the sport, professional players from the world's premier competition, the National Hockey League of North America, played in the Nagano Games.

The Canadian men’s and women’s teams were defending champions after delighting the home crowd at Vancouver in 2010 and again at Sochi 2014, but were usurped from the throne by Russia (men) and the USA (women) at PyeongChang 2018.

Sport Format

In ice hockey, two teams - each comprised of six players on the ice at one time - use a stick to hit a puck into the goal. The aim is to score more goals than the opposition. Players can be substituted at any time but the team of six players on the ice usually comprises of one goalkeeper, two defenders, two wings and one centre. Fewer players can be on the ice as a result of penalties: a goalkeeper can be replaced by a skater during a delayed penalty, or at any other time of the game, at the team's risk.

Men’s teams compete with a squad of 23 players (20 players and three goalkeepers), while women’s teams have 20 players (18 players and two goalkeepers). At the Olympic Winter Games, women compete in an eight-team tournament whereas men compete in a 12-team tournament. Most notably, body checking is not allowed in women's ice hockey.

A regular game consists of three 20-minute periods, with a 15-minute intermission after the first and second periods. Teams change ends for each period. If a tie occurs in a medal-round game in which a winner must be determined, a five-minute sudden-victory overtime period is played. In the gold medal game, a 20-minute sudden-victory period is played subsequent to another 15-minute intermission. In the case of a tie after any sudden-victory period, a game-winning penalty shoot competition takes place to determine the winner.

The competition is comprised of two phases, a preliminary round and a play-off round. The first is a round-robin format with two groups of six teams for the Men’s tournament and two groups of four teams for the Women’s tournament. Each team plays the other teams in their group once.

Advancing to the play-off round are the top four ranked teams in each group for the men and the top two teams from each group for the women. There are quarterfinals, semi-finals and games for the gold/silver and bronze medals.

Freestyle Skiing

Submitted by admin on Sun, 06/30/2019 - 11:24
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Australia and Olympic Freestyle Skiing 

Australia has a strong history in freestyle skiing, having won medals at every Games since Salt Lake City 2002.

Alisa Camplin won Australia’s first freestyle skiing medal in 2002 with gold in women’s aerials. She followed this performance with bronze four years later in Torino. Five time Olympian Lydia Lassila won gold at Vancouver 2010 and bronze at Sochi 2014. David Morris claimed the first men’s Olympic Aerials medal for Australia at Sochi with silver.

Australia has two mogul skiing medallists in Dale Begg Smith (gold – Torino 2006; silver – Vancouver 2010) and Matt Graham (silver – PyeongChang 2018). We have also had strong representation in women’s moguls, ski cross and ski slopestyle.

Olympic History

Freestyle skiing has been a medal sport on the Olympic program since Albertville 1992, although it made its Olympic debut back in Calgary in 1988 as a demonstration sport. In Albertville moguls became a full medal sport, while aerials had to wait until Lillehammer 1994 for that status. In Vancouver in 2010, ski cross was added as an event for both men and women. In Sochi 2014, ski slopestyle and ski halfpipe joined the program.

Sport Format

Freestyle skiing developed as a combination of alpine skiing and acrobatics in America in the 1960s. The International Ski Federation (FIS) recognised freestyle as a discipline in 1979 and brought in new regulations regarding certification of athletes and jump techniques in an effort to curb some of the dangerous elements of the competitions.

Aerials

Aerial skiing involves skiers performing various acrobatic and gymnastic moves in the air after elevating from a snow-packed kicker (ramp). There are different kickers for different jumps and skiers choose which ramp best suits their specific needs. Each jump receives a score out of 30 gained from a split points system which awards 20% for air, 50% for form and 30% for landing. The total is then multiplied by the jump’s degree of difficulty rating to produce the final score.

The aerials competition consists of qualification (2 jumps) and final (3 jumps) phases. There are 25 men and 25 women competitors. The top 6 competitors from Qualification Jump 1 advance directly to the final. The remaining 19 competitors perform a second jump. The top 6 from Qualification Jump 2 also advance to the final.

The 12 competitors in the final will run in reverse order of their qualification rank. The final is divided into three jumps, points are not carried forward. The top 8 competitors from Final 1 advance to Final 2. The top four competitors from Final 2 advance to Final 3 where the medals are decided. The ranking in the final is based on the scores from each jump.

Moguls

The moguls competition consists of a run down a 200m plus slope evenly covered with round bumps known as moguls. There are also two jumps to complete on the course. Competitors are judged by a panel of seven judges, with five assessing turns (worth up to 15 points) and two scoring the jumps, or ‘air’ (worth up to 7.5 points). The remaining element of the score (also worth up to 7.5 points) is determined by the speed of the run.

There are two qualification rounds. In Qualification 1, the top 10 skiers will be seeded directly into the final. In Qualification 2, the remaining competitors will compete with the next top 10 skiers being seeded into the final to round out the 20 finalists.

There are three phases of finals, with all competitors starting in reverse order in each phase. The first final phase (F1) will have 20 competitors. The top 12 will progress to the second final phase (F2). From F2, the top 6 will progress to the third final phase (F3). From this last final, the top 3 competitors will win the medals.

Ski Cross

There are two phases in ski cross for each event: the qualification round and the final round. There are 32 men and 32 women competitors who negotiate a course approximately 1000m long with turns and obstacles.

In the qualification round all competitors ski one timed run, alone on the course. The time determines the qualification ranking and competitors start in the same order for both runs.

The final round is based on 32 competitors and consists of: 1/8 final, a quarter-final, a semi-final, a small final, and a big final. There are four skiers per heat and the first two skiers to finish advance to the next round. The competitors are placed in first round heats (1/8 final or quarter-final) based on their qualification round rank. Ranking at the finish of a heat is determined by the order of the competitors as they cross the finish line. In the case that more than one competitor does not cross the finish line, the competitor who made it the farthest down the course receives the better ranking. The first three athletes across the line in the big final are the medallists. If two or more competitors have an unbreakable tie (photo-finish) in the medal round, they are both awarded the same medal.

Ski Halfpipe

One competitor at a time performs a routine of acrobatic jumps, flips, twists and other manoeuvres on a halfpipe. The athletes are judged on their take-offs, the height they reach above the top of the pipe, and difficulty of their manoeuvres.

There are two phases of the competition – qualification and final. Scores do not carry over from qualification to the final.

In the qualification phase there are 30 men and 24 women. Competitors start in a random order, each completing 2 runs with the score from their best run deciding the ranking. 12 skiers advance to the final where they each ski two runs. In each run, competitors are run in reverse order of their ranking.

Ski Slopestyle

Slopestyle courses feature rails, jibs, hips and a variety of jumps allowing skiers to combine big air and technical tricks into one run. Competitors are scored in an overall impression judging format on amplitude, execution, difficulty of line, landing and use of the course.

There are two phases of the competition – qualification and final. Scores do not carry over from qualification to the final.

In the qualification phase there are 30 men and 24 women. Competitors start in a random order, each completing 2 runs with the score from their best run deciding the ranking. 12 skiers advance to the final where they each ski two runs. In each run, competitors are run in reverse order of their ranking.

Australia has a strong history in freestyle skiing, having won medals at every Games since Salt Lake City 2002.

Women’s aerials have been the particular strength throughout this time. At Salt Lake City in 2002, Alisa Camplin from Melbourne scored a total of 193.47 point in the final to become the Olympic aerials champion and also Australia’s first skiing gold medallist. The Salt Lake Games also saw tragedy when, in the week before the competition, Jacqui Cooper shattered her knee in training. It also saw the arrival of a young Lydia Lassila (then Ierodiaconou) who placed eighth in the final.

Four years later in Torino, Camplin on the comeback from serious injury produced another sensational performance to take bronze. Cooper who had broken the world record in the preliminaries finished eighth and this time it was tragedy for Lassila, who shattered her knee in the preliminary rounds while in podium form.

Lassila made a truly fairytale comeback at Vancouver 2010. Four years of hard work after the knee injury that ended her Torino campaign, she landed two outstanding jumps in heavy fog at the final on Cypress Mountain, to win with an Olympic record total score of 214.74. Jacqui Cooper finished in fifth place in her fourth Olympic Games.

Four years later and Lassila was on the podium again having won bronze but it was silver medallist David Morris who secured Australia’s best result at Sochi 2014. With a knack for pulling out his best when it matters most, Morris landed his jump in the four-man final before both Chinese competitors couldn’t stick theirs to ensure Morris claimed the first men’s Aerials medal for Australia at an Olympic Games.

Although an Aussie wasn’t on the aerials podium at PyeongChang, dual Olympian Laura Peel recorded Australia’s best result with 5th place, while Lydia Lassila created history as the first Australian female to compete in five Winter Olympic Games, placing 14th.

In mogul skiing, Australia has been strongly represented by the men. The four-time Olympian, Adrian Costa, placed 14th at both the Albertville 1992 and Lillehammer 1994 Games. Nick Cleaver’s 11th place at Albertville was the best Aussie result until Dale Begg-Smith crushed the opposition at Torino to become Australia’s third Winter Olympic gold medallist. Begg-Smith, who suffered a serious knee injury in 2009, returned to his birth town of Vancouver to attempt to defend his title at the 2010 Games. Begg-Smith finished with a final score of 26.58 to snag the silver medal, just behind local hero Alexandre Bilodeau on a score of 26.75.

Australia took its first full eight-skier mogul contingent to PyeongChang 2018. Dual Olympian Matt Graham added to Australia’s mogul success in Korea, winning silver behind the world’s most successful mogul skier, Canadian Mikael Kingsbury. Australia secured its best Olympic result in the women’s competition with debutant Jakara Anthony finishing 4th and triple Olympian Britt Cox in fifth.

Ski cross made its Olympic debut at Vancouver with a strong showing by Australian skiers. Scott Kneller placed seventh in the men’s event, and Jenny Owens and Katya Crema both progressed to the quarter-finals in the women’s. Dual Olympian Sami Kennedy-Sim improved on her Sochi 2014 result by 20 places at PyeongChang 2018, finishing in 8th place.

Ski Slopestyle made its Olympic debut at Sochi 2014. 23-year-old Russ Henshaw was Australia’s only slopestyle athlete when the discipline made its debut on the Russian Slopes. Although he entered the Games under an injury cloud, Henshaw easily qualified for the finals where he finished in eighth place with a score of 80.40. Another injury put Henshaw’s second Games appearance in doubt just before PyeongChang 2018, however he received medical clearance in time to compete in the qualification round where he finished 19th.

Figure Skating

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Sport Introduction

Australia and Olympic Figure Skating

Australians first competed in figure skating at Oslo 1952. Adrian Swan competed in the men’s individual and placed 10th. Nancy Hallam and Gweneth Molony both competed in the ladies individual placing 14th and 21st respectively. Cameron Medhurst represented Australia at three consecutive Winter Olympics, at Sarajevo 1984, Calgary 1988 and Albertville 1992, where he achieved his best of result of 16th in Albertville.

The brother/sister national pairs figure skating champions Stephen Carr and Danielle McGrath (Carr) also represented Australia at three consecutive Winter Olympics. At Albertville 1992, they placed 13th and then equalled the best performance by an Australian pair with 11th at Lillehammer 1994. In Nagano 1998 they placed 13th.

Australia’s best Olympic results were achieved by Adrian Swan (Oslo 1952) and Anthony Liu (Salt Lake 2002) who both placed 10th in the men’s individual; Joanne Carter who placed 12th in the ladies individual at Nagano 1998; the pairs Stephen and Danielle Carr, who placed 11th at Lillehammer 1994, and Monica MacDonald and Rodney Clarke who placed 20th at Nagano 1998 in ice dancing. 
 
Cheltzie Lee was Australia’s only figure skating representative at Vancouver 2010 and won the hearts of the nation, finishing 18th in the short program and 20th in the free program (20th overall), posting personal best scores and delivering beyond her 16 years.

Four years on and Australia had four representatives at the Sochi 2014 Games – Brendan Kerry and Brooklee Hann skating in the individual men’s and women’s competition, while Greg Merriman and Danielle O'Brien paired up in the Ice Dancing event.

Brendan Kerry went on to again grace the Olympic stage at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics, with debutant Kailani Craine taking the women’s individual spot.

Harley Windsor made history in 2018 as Australia’s first Indigenous Winter Olympian as he paired up with Moscow-born Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya in the pairs competition.

Sport Format 

There are five Olympic figure skating events: ladies’ singles, men’s singles, pairs, ice dancing and the team event.

The men’s, ladies’ and pairs competitions consist of two separate parts: the short program and the free skating. The short program combines eight prescribed elements such as jump combinations and spins. In the free skating program, skaters perform an original arrangement of techniques to music of their choice. The top 24 of the 30 competitors in the singles events and all 20 couples in the pairs event qualify for the free skate.

In the pairs the couple work as one unit, demonstrating overhead lifts, throw-jumps with the man launching his partner, and other manoeuvres.

Ice dancing is similar to ballroom dancing and composed of three parts, compulsory, original, and free dances. The focus is on the complex steps in time with the music. The skaters maintain contact with each other, limiting lifts and jumps. In compulsory dancing, the couple performs one pre-determined dance. The original dance must follow selected rhythms, though the pair can choose their own music and interpretative steps. In free dancing the pair freely express their interpretation of the music they have chosen.

The figure skating team event will feature teams made up of six skaters: one male skater, one female skater, one skating pair and one ice dance couple. Points are awarded to each skater/ couple. The team with the highest number of aggregate points is declared the winner. The figure skating team event made its first appearance at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck and will be on the program in Sochi in 2014.

Judging 

Following a judging controversy in Salt Lake 2002, the ISU adopted a new system in 2004 to award points for each element of a skater’s routine, based on degree of difficulty and level of performance. In addition computer scoring was introduced, which randomly selects the scores of nine judges from the panel of 12, discarding the highest and lowest scores of that nine, leaving seven judges’ scores to produce the final result.

A total score is based on the addition of points of two segments.

1. The technical score (or Total Element Score) comprised of points gained on jumps, spins and stepwork. Each element of the performance is assigned a base value relating to its degree of difficulty, with judges evaluating the performance on each element within a range of plus 3 to minus 3.

2. The Program Component Score comprised of points gained on five components - skating skills, transition, performance and execution, choreography and interpretation. The program component scores range from 0.25 to 10.0 and range from very poor to outstanding. It evaluates overall skating quality, difficulty and quality of steps linking the elements, style and originality. 

Figure skating made its Olympic debut at the London 1908 Summer Games and appeared later at the Antwerp 1920 Games. It became an official Olympic Winter Games sport at the inaugural Winter Games in Chamonix 1924 and has remained on the program ever since. It is the only winter sport to have mixed competitions. The ice dancing competition was added at Innsbruck 1976.

One of the superstars of the Winter Olympics was Sonja Henie, who at just 11 years of age, made her Olympic debut finishing eighth at Chamonix 1924. Four years later she returned to win her first of three consecutive gold medals.