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Action packed weekend for Aussie winter sport stars

13 January 2017

WINTER SPORTS: In a little over a year Australian winter sports athletes will be competing at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

The all-important World Cup events heat up again this weekend as the Aussies fly the flag in a host of winter sports. Snowboard slopestyle athlete Jessica Rich kicks off proceedings in Kreischberg, Austria on Friday evening at 6.45pm AEDT while Ski slopestyle star Russ Henshaw competes in Font Romeu, France from 7pm AEDT.

Henshaw is eager to get back into international competition, with this world cup marking the Sochi 2014 Olympian’s first competition in almost a year after a difficult run of injuries and rehabilitation.

“At the end of the day, what we do is a dangerous sport,” Henshaw said.

“You can try and be as careful as you can and take the most precautions that you can… If you crash, sometimes you get away with it and sometimes you don’t.

“But this is what I love doing, so I just want to keep doing it.”

The expanded Australian Moguls Skiing Team, led by Britt Cox and Matt Graham, is back in action for the second World Cup on Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid, USA from 1.40am on Saturday morning (AEDT).

Cox claimed a breakthrough victory at the season-opening world cup in Ruka, Finland in December, winning her first gold medal.

“I realised after the first final in Finland to stay calm, use breathing and focus on the process and not the outcome because there is still a job to be done,” Cox said after her win.

"We had excellent training conditions in Winter Park leading up to Lake Placid and ended up with nine quality days on snow. I'm also looking forward to having more girls join Nicole Parks and myself on the circuit for these upcoming events."

22-year-old Graham, opened his account in December with world cup silver before heading home to the NSW Central Coast for a short break and training burst.

“I was able to capitalise on my time at home and have a strong strength and conditioning focus by getting into the gym to train,” he said.

“It was very beneficial to give the mind and body a break and also get some good strength and fitness gains. This will make a big difference come World Championships in March.”

The moguls skiing team in Lake Placid includes OWIA athletes Brodie Summers and Nicole Parks plus a healthy contingent of NSWIS development athletes.

The world cup for the mogul skiers in Lake Placid will be held January 13.

Two world cups for ski cross will be competed in Watles, Italy this weekend after weather conditions forced the cancellation of the Megeve World Cup.

With OWIA skier Anton Grimus out with a minor injury, carrying the baton for Australia is Samantha Kennedy-Sim who will be looking to better her fourth-place World Cup finish in Arosa, Switzerland in mid-December.

Aerial skiing is back for the third world cup in Lake Placid starting with the qualifying round from 6.55am on Sunday morning.

The Flying Kangaroos Team is as strong as it gets with Danielle Scott, Laura Peel, Samantha Wells, Lydia Lassila and Dave Morris.

Scott, currently ranked equal world number one is going after another podium. Joining the Flying Kangaroos is dual Olympic medallist Lassila, who is returning to competition for the first time since Sochi in February 2014.

The 34-year-old mother of two says her expectations for a possible fifth Olympics are more about consistency and strategy.

“I’m pretty excited to head to Lake Placid and start competing again. I’m not sure I’ll be in peak form (probably a bit rusty) however I’m going to stick to the same focus and keep building up slowly and having fun,” Lassila said.

For Scott the goal will be to maintain her world number one ranking with the yellow bib.

“The world cups in China in December were Dani’s best-ever start to the season,” said Geoff Lipshut, CEO Olympic Winter Institute of Australia.

“The same can be said for Samantha Wells, who broke 90 points for the first time in December.”

Sochi silver medallist Dave Morris is fully recovered from injury and trained well leading into Lake Placid.

“Dave’s health and confidence are good, and he is indicating that he’s getting back on track for strong performances in world cups in North America,” Lipshut said.

Biathletes Daniel Walker, Jill Colebourn and Sabrina Howell will all be in action in Arber, Germany, for the IBU Cup 5 event.

While the event is only the second on the circuit for both Howell and Colebourn, the more experienced Walker will be looking to secure a strong result to push his bid for World Championships qualification.

The event features a 20km individual event for the men and a 15km individual event for the women.

Belinda Noonan

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