WEEKEND WRITE-UP: Historic week for Australian Curling

In VIS sport, Dean Hewitt and his curling partner secured Australia its first ever Olympic quota spot in curling, as the Aussie aerial skiers produced gold and silver in Finland.

Image: Hewitt and Gill embrace after securing Australia a sport at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Credit: WCF / Steve Seixeiro

Curling

Victorian Institute of Sport scholarship holder Dean Hewitt and his curling partner Tahli Gill (QAS) have created history, earning Australia’s first ever Olympic quota spot in Curling, after winning the Mixed Doubles Olympic Qualification Event in Leeuwarden, Netherlands.

The pair defeated Korea 6-5 in the final to cap off an incredible tournament, with the Australian pair winning seven matches from seven to earn one of the final two Beijing 2022 quotas.

In the final, the Koreans jumped out to an early lead with a 4-2 advantage after the first five ends. In the sixth end, Australia called a power play, and managed to clear out Korean stones early. Gill produced a nose-hit on the only Korean stone in the house to score three points and take a 5-4 lead.

In the eighth and final end with scores tied at 5-5, Gill showed nerves of steel with her final throw using the backing of the one Korean stone lying in the house to draw for the one point that gave her team a 6-5 win and a place in the Olympic Games.

“It’s amazing. I called Tahli about three and half years ago and said, ‘look, do you want to make a run at these Olympics?" Hewitt said. "We’ve been working so hard over the past few months and the past couple of years, and it’s all paid off. We’ve had so much support from home, we can’t thank them enough. We’ve been away from home for three months and two days, and we’re going straight back to Canada for a few more months."

Read MORE | OWIA 

Aerial Skiing

Australia has recorded an amazing double podium performance, with VIS scholarship holders Danielle Scott and Laura Peel taking home gold and silver at the aerial skiing World Cup event in Ruka, Finland.

The last time Australia recorded a double podium was four years ago in Lake Placid, USA, when Lydia Lassila and Laura Peel won medals in back-to-back World Cup events.

In a one jump competition, Scott scored a near perfect 102.93 points for her double full-full jump, a triple twisting double back somersault, to record the fifth World Cup victory of her career.

2021 World and World Cup Champion Peel performed a full-tuck-full, double twisting triple back somersault, scoring 99.37 points to finish in second place.

“Walking away with the gold today feels pretty amazing” said Scott, the 31-year-old double World Championship medallist.

“It’s been a bit of a slow, but good build to the season, I started doing triple back somersaults last week, but decided to compete double somersaults today.

Also in action for Australia, Abbey Willcox, who recorded her best result of the season, finishing in 11th, with Airleigh Frigo in a personal best 19th place and Gabi Ash in 34th.

After four events, Danielle Scott is sitting in fourth place on the World Cup standings, with Laura Peel in fifth.

The aerial skiing World Cup tour will resume in the new year, with the next event taking place in Le Relais, Canada, on January 5.

Read MORE | OWIA

Para-alpine Skiing

Victorian Institute of Sport scholarship holder Mitch Gourley returned to the start gates last week for his first competition in almost two years after missing out on last season's World Cup due to the pandemic. 

The week marked an important milestone for 2017 World Champion, Gourley, returning to competition for the first time since he was injured in the Men's Downhill race at the 2019 World Para Alpine Skiing World Championships. 

“I’ve always stayed in touch with ski racing, but I definitely took some planned time out after that 2019 injury,” Gourley told World Para Alpine Skiing.

“At first that was meant to be just one year to work and complete my masters, but the pandemic turned it into over two years away. I also knew that the one-year break might turn out to be a retirement, but I learnt a lot working in ‘real jobs’ over these two, three years and I’m excited to be back ski racing in Europe.

“Mentally, I think I’ve learned to have more perspective,” Gourley said. “I’m a lot more grateful for all the opportunities that ski racing brings me and I’m determined to enjoy and savour them on this last lap.”

The three-time Paralympian was the best placed Australian in the Men’s Standing Super-G races earlier in the week, placing 14th in both SG races.

"I’m just stoked to be back here on long skis, making fast turns with my friends again!" He said. 

Read MORE | Snow Australia 

Saling

Victorian Institute of Sport scholarship holder Laura Harding teamed up with NSWIS athlete Annie Wilmot for their first regatta together with great success. The duo notched up their first regatta win at Sail Sydney at the conclusion of the eight races over four days in what were described as "crazy conditions." 

Athletics (Marathon) 

This weekend of athletics was headlined by Australia's marathon runners, taking the roads for the Melbourne Marathon Festival. Victorian Institute of Sport scholarship holder Brett Robinson proved too strong in the Men's Marathon, prevailing in a time of 2:14.34 to clinch his maiden Melbourne Marathon. Fellow scholarship holder Jack Rayner was also impressive, taking out the Men's Half Marathon in a time of 1:02:32.

VIS race walker, Jemima Montag, completed the Women's Half Marathon walking the journey into a very solid 135th place overall. 

Read MORE | Athletics Australia 

Cycling 

Racing was back at DISC over the weekend with the running of the 85th Melbourne Cup on Wheels. Victorian Institute of Sport scholarship holders Alessia McCaig (2nd off 10m handicap) and Ned Pollard (3rd off 120m handicap) were both impressive finishing on the podium. 

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