“There aren’t normally this many seats back home. Things are definitely different here in Norway, I’m really excited to see how many people show up.” 15-year-old Madison Poole points to a small supporters section in the corner of Kristins Hall. She comes from a country with sports like surfing, cricket and rugby are very popular. These sports are usually done in blazing sunshine and blistering heat. Madison Poole from Perth has skated her way to the Youth Olympic Games here in Lillehammer.
Australia doesn’t have a representative team at Lillehammer 2016, for either boys or girls, but never-the-less two players have come here to improve their skills, and, compete for their first time in an Olympic Tournament. Australia’s’ representatives in the Ice Hockey Skill Challenge are Jake Riley from Adelaide and Madison Poole from Perth.
Madison qualified for the Youth Olympic Games via a qualifier in Finland where she came in third, and as such is a definite candidate for a medal here at Lillehammer 2016.
“I am confident in my abilities. I have come this far, so I have as good a chance as anyone else here,” says Madison, who has played for both Australia’s under 18s and senior teams.
Madison and Jake have brought with them their coach Tamra Jones, who has known Madison since she played on the U-18s team, and who believes a medal at the Games is not impossible.
“Madison is definitely someone who is capable of winning a medal here at Lillehammer 2016, she knows this herself. With regards to Jake, he placed 8th in Finland, which makes him a bit of a wild card with respects to winning a medal. I’m really looking forward to seeing the both in action after they have worked so hard to get here.”
Australia is unlikely to find its feet on the ice straight away in a tournament such as this. The contrast between Kristins Hall and those skating rings found in Australia is huge, but Madison has no plans to let her nerves get the best of her.
“If I see that there are a lot of people, I just try to concentrate on myself, that usually helps. This is such a big opportunity for me and my chance to win a medal.”
Madison feels it is a bit strange to compete individually on the ice, but still she is still grateful for the opportunity: “Ice Hockey Skills is a more relaxed discipline; the only real pressure is that which I put upon myself. It’s pretty cool in one respect, you have to show you possess the necessary skills to be a good hockey player.”
In Ice Hockey Skills, Athletes compete in six disciplines; fastest lap, accuracy, skating technique, fastest shot, passing precision and puck control. Madison is safe in the first category; she does after all hold the world record for fastest lap! “My skating is good, but I have to work on the power of my shots”
Like all the other competitors, Madison is staying in the Youth Olympic Village at Stampsletta, which came as a pleasant surprise to her. “The Youth Olympic Village is way cooler that I thought it was going to be. I have kept myself up to date with all things related to the Youth Olympic Games, I have been looking forward to this so much!”