Australia launches year-round Winter Olympics training facility

SYDNEY — Australia has launched a year-round Winter Olympics training facility in subtropical Brisbane.

The country hopes the center will help its athletes ahead of the 2022 Beijing Games. Their top freestyle skiers put the center to the test Wednesday, sliding down ramps and attempting tricks before plunging into a pool at the bottom.

Previously, Australia’s athletes had to practice overseas, using a water ramp facility in Utah. They spent around 118 days training overseas from 2013 to 2017.

“Yeah, I think for a lot of sports, but especially for aerials, this is going to be a massive game-changer. We have to spend so much time on the road, nine to 10 months of the year, and sacrifice a lot of things like school and university, and usually you can’t start in this sport until after you’ve finished high school, and we see young Americans, Canadians and Russians and the rest of the world out there jumping at 15 years old. So for us, it’s going to help a lot,” said freestyle skier Laura Peel.

“The facility is fantastic. It’s just a dream come true, really, to be able to train on home soil. We are fueling back into Australia rather than other countries and being at the mercy of their time slots and things like that. So yeah, to be on almost all the jumps and the triples is pretty awesome,” said aerials world silver medalist Danielle Scott. “For me in particular coming back from injury, I got that time where I could train, and everyone else was overseas and successfully returned to the sport, and then go overseas and have such a successful winter. The timing of this place was key.”

The $6.5 million center is the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. It means athletes will be able to stay close to home while avoiding travel problems posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.