New South Wales Institute of Sport (NSWIS) High Performance manager of Winter Sport, Peter Topalovic, praised the advent of the Winter Youth Olympic Games – where the Institute’s athletes won three prized medals – as an aspirational event.

NSWIS scholarship athletes Daisy Thomas, Lottie Lodge (pictured) and Abbey Wilson returned from Gangwon in South Korea with three medals – two silver and a bronze – after Italy dominated the Games by winning a total of 17 medals.  

Thomas won silver in the freeski big event; Lodge sealed silver in the dual moguls, while Wilson took bronze in the mixed snowboard team’s event with William Martin.

Edward Hill, who was the fourth NSWIS scholarship holder on the Australian team, finished the men’s dual moguls in ninth position.

Wilson, 17, said her silver medal performance would be a cherished lifelong memory.

“Standing up on the podium with Will next to me was a feeling I’ve never felt before,” said Wilson, after opening Australia’s medal account. “It was really nice to get up there as a team and be proud of not only my efforts but his as well.”

Lodge, 17, said she was ecstatic her performance went according to plan.

“I also just wanted to go out there and do my own run, not worry about what the person next to me was doing,” she said. “And I think I did that.

“I am just so stoked to represent Australia and to come away with a silver medal.”

Thomas, 16, admitted she’d had a daily reminder of what was at stake in Gangwon for the past year.

“I came here with the goal of getting on the podium, I’ve had the Youth Olympic medal on my phone’s home screen for over a year now, and to have the medal in my hands feels so surreal,” said Thomas, who made her World Cup debut last December.

“I went in confident in my own ability, in my training and in my two tricks. I had a game plan and ultimately just had to execute that plan, which I did.”

Topalovic described the performance of the four athletes as “very pleasing” and he credited the Youth Olympic Games – which has only been running since the inaugural event at Innsbruck in 2012 – for giving young athletes a purpose.

“The Youth Olympics is still a new competition,” he said. “But it’s given the next generation another benchmark to aim for.

“When they look through the lens of winter sport they think ‘my dream is to go to the Olympics’ and when they go through the steps required for that it’s this: Get to NSWIS, then the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia, win a World Cup medal and go on to the Olympic Games.

“The Youth Olympic Games means they have another checkpoint, and it is one where they’re up against people in their own age group. That gives them a true purpose of ‘this is where I sit among this group,’ making it another measure to check where they’re at.”

 And NSWIS’s Generation Next is not lacking inspiration with NSWIS’s Winter Sport scholarship holders performing extraordinarily overseas with:

  • Jakara Anthony creating history by winning 10 World Cup medals in a season – the most by an Australian in any Winter Sport discipline – after her triumphs in the FIS Freestyle Moguls and in the FIS Freestyle Dual Moguls at Waterville Valley Resort, New Hampshire, USA. Anthony is now one win away from equalling Hannah Kearney of the USA for the most World Cup wins in a mogul’s season, which the American achieved in 2011/12.
  • Valentino Guseli winning silver (behind Aussie Scotty James) at the Halfpipe World Cup in Laax, Switzerland
  • Cooper Woods claiming his first Freestyle Moguls World Cup medal at Waterville Valley Resort, New Hampshire, USA

Daniel Lane, NSWIS

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