It is a country known for dusty deserts and golden-sanded beaches, which has historically struggled in winter sports. But since Steven Bradbury’s breakthrough first place at Salt Lake City in 2002, Australia has been on the top of the podium in five Winter Olympic events. It has inspired a fresh breed of athletes, including Alpine skier Greta Small, who is hoping to be the next winter wonder from Down Under.
“Skiing is more than a sport, it is a family lifestyle,” said the 16-year-old Small, who trains at Mount Hotham in Victoria.
“Skiing is my whole life. Even if I could not compete I would still somehow be involved in the snow and the mountains.”
During the southern summer, Small bases herself in Pitztal, Austria. It is something she believes will come in handy when she hits the slopes as part of the Aussie team in the first ever Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck next January.
“The whole Austrian experience will not be new to me; I already know the culture and I know a lot of the locals here. So it will be just a home away from home.”
It will be the first time Small has lived in an athletes’ village during competition.
“I think it will show me that it does not matter where you come from, that the dreams and aspirations are the same for most people. Everybody that is coming will be dedicated to achieving the best they can.”
While there are still over two months until the Innsbruck Opening Ceremony, the youngster is already setting targets.“I definitely want to podium at the Olympics. That is a really big goal.”