Sport on Saturdays: Women to watch at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Sochi 2014

The countdown is on.

There are only a few days left until the 2014 Winter Olympics begin. And it’s time to start getting excited.

It’s no secret that in Australia, the Winter Olympics don’t get nearly as much attention as the Summer Olympics. And it’s kind of understandable, considering that:

a) the majority of the population have probably never even seen snow, and;

b) they’re always on during one of our warmest months of the year, and it’s kind of hard to get involved in bobsledding and freestyle skiing when it’s +30 degrees outside and you’re eating your third Zooper Dooper for the day.

Seriously, though – this is THE year to get involved in the Winter Olympics, as we have a ridiculously strong Australian team representing us in Russia this year.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this week’s Sport on Saturdays is sponsored by Female For Life. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

Here are the facts:

– This is the 22nd Winter Olympic Games, and will be held in Sochi, Russia (pronounced Soh-chee). It’s located in the Krasnodar Region in the south of Russia, near the border they share with Georgia.

– Contrary to popular belief, it’ll actually be pretty warm there – your average February temperature in Sochi is about eight degrees.

– Events will be divided up into “ice” events and “skiing and sliding” events. The first block of events will be held near the Black Sea in the Imeretinskaya Valley. The second block of events will be held in the Krasnaya Polyana Mountains, where organisers have been saving snow since last winter. There are 11 new venues in total, costing organisers a casual $51 billion.

– 6000 athletes from 85 different countries will be competing. Following the Olympic Games, the Paralympic games will commence, with 1650 athletes from 45 countries competing.

– The games run for 17 days in total.

– There are 15 sports in total, and 89 events (12 of which are new this year). For more information about the events and scheduling, click here.

– This is the first year in which women are allowed to compete in ski jumping, after a long process of campaigning for it to be something other than a male-only sport.

– Safety is a concern at the Olympics, especially after a bombing in December that killed more than 30 people in the nearby city of Volgograd. However, no athletes have yet to pull out of the games.

– The views of Russian President, Vladimir Putin, have also been the subject of hot debate in the lead-up to the games. This is because of Russia’s anti-gay laws, which criminalise displays of same-sex affection in public places. In mid-January, Putin prompted outrage when he said that gay people would not be harassed or discriminated against during the Olympics, provided that they “leave children alone”.

The athletes:


– The Australian Olympic team was only finalised at the end of January; however, a record number of athletes have been selected to represent Australia. We have 60 in total; previously, at the 2010 Vancouver Games and the 2006 Torino Games, we had 40.

– For the first time in Olympic history, the team has more female athletes than men – there are 31 females, and 29 males.

– We will competing in: Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Bobsleigh, Cross Country Skiing, Figure Skating, Freestyle Skiing, Luge, Short Track Speed Skating, Skeleton Snowboard and Speed Skating.

– The youngest athlete is 18-year-old speed skater, Deanna Lockett. The oldest is 35-year-old Ski Cross racer Jenny Owens.

– For seven of the athletes, this will be their third Olympics – including Jana Pittman, the first Australian woman to compete at both a Summer and Winter Olympic games.

– The Australian Olympic Committee has set a performance target: to place within the top 15 nations on the overall medal standings. This will likely take 4 to 5 medals.

The interview:

I interviewed Taylah O’Neill, a 19-year-old freestyle skier who plans to compete in the mogul skiing event over in Sochi. It’s her first Winter Olympic Games, and she is – understandably – pretty excited.

This is what she told me about her story:

Taylah doing a jump

My family introduced me to skiing when I was very young. Each year, we went on a family ski trip to Perisher ski resort in the snowy mountains, At the age of 8, I joined the Winter Sports Club and began competing in regional and national competitions.

Mogul skiing is competed on a 250m course that has 3 sections of bumps (moguls) split up by two jumps. Basically, you ski the first part of the course, ski off the first jump and do a trick – I do a 360 off the top air. Then you ski the middle part of the course, then hit the bottom air, which is where I do a back flip, then ski the bottom section.

Mogul skiing is a judged sport and is judged on 25% speed, 50% turns and 25% air. The aim of the game is to get down the course as clean as possible, while also executing perfect tricks and skiing as fast as possible.

Mogul skiing can be quite a dangerous sport, as there is a lot involved in it. Particularly the air and trick component can be the most dangerous. usually when you hit the two jumps as you carry a lot of speed into them. People also sometimes try and ski a little too fast while in the middle section and so that results in pulling out, or a big crash.

In the lead-up to the Games we have been doing high intensity sessions on snow, particularly focusing on performance on demand, with a schedule of 3 days on, 1 day off. However, in the gym we have not been doing quite as much as usual to ensure that our bodies are fresh for on-snow training, as this is the most important at this time.

Throughout the day I ensure I eat enough to keep my body energised for the day’s activities. Some of my favourite things to eat before, after and during training, include porridge, Chobani yoghurt, fruit, sandwiches, muesli bars and lots of water.


For anyone who wants to get involved in skiing – just get out there, have a go and have fun! There is no harm in trying and you might just find a sport that you are truly passionate about and/or love to compete in. It always helps to start at a young age in skiing, but it’s always never too late to start.

If you want to watch all the moguls action, tune in to channel 10 on the 7th, 9th and 11th of February. There will be 3 Australian girls competing (on the 7th and 9th) in the moguls and 4 Australian boys (on the 11th).

Want to watch the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games?

The Games will be screening exclusively on Channel Ten, starting from the 8th February. Every night at 6pm you can watch Sochi Tonight; Sochi Live will also screen from 7:30pm onwards. There will also be 24-hour coverage of the games on ONE.

If you’d like to find out more about the Australian Winter Olympic team, go here for full profiles on all the athletes.

If you’re watching the games and would like to chat about them on social media – go here for the fanzone social hub.

Will you be watching the Winter Olympics?

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And in other sport news from the week…

– It’s official: England has won the women’s Ashes series, after reaching the target of 151 with more than two overs to spare. The Australian Southern Stars played incredibly well, with Meg Lanning achieving one of the highest scores.

– The Australian Open is over, and the women’s final went to China’s Li Na. Li Na won 7-6 (3), 6-0 over Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova. Incidentally, 32-year-old Nah has become the oldest women’s champion in the Open.

– The Hockeyroos, our national women’s hockey team, have done well in a Test series against South Africa, in Cape Town. The Hockeyroos are currently number four in the world and won two games out of the three in the Test series.