Twenty-two-year-old aerial skier, Laura Peel, has recorded a break-through victory to take a World Cup gold medal in Kreischberg, Austria, Feb 20th.
The Mt Buller skier joins the elite group of Kirstie Marshall, Jacqui Cooper, Alisa Camplin and Lydia Lassila as the only Australians to have won a World Cup aerial skiing event.
It is the first major international win by an Australian aerial skier since Lassila won gold at the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games two years ago.
Peel finished ahead of Ukrainian Olga Volkova, who was a medalist at last year’s World Championships, and China’s Yu Yang in third place.
The win by the Australian Institute of Sport / Victorian Institute of Sport athlete in the World Cup seventh round follows a season of remarkable progress, elevating her ranking to fourth in the world.
In just her second year on the World Cup circuit, Peel has produced a third, a fifth and fourth placing to go with today’s victory, delivering a dream season.
Given that Peel is in the early stage of her development and yet to introduce high degree of difficulty jumps into her repertoire, her achievements this season have surprised many, including herself.
“It’s going to take a while for today to sink in because it is a big shock, Peel said.
“I would not have dreamed of this at the start of the season.
“I think this is now the start of my career and I can achieve a lot more, using jumps with a higher degree of difficulty.
“I think there is potential there, with hopefully a lot more to come.”
Peel set herself a goal of making two finals this year and if a podium finished occurred, that would be a bonus.
So far this season she has smashed those expectations and Peel hopes that this is the first step towards achieving the ultimate for her – a Winter Olympic Games medal.
“Today definitely helps towards achieving my long term goal of an Olympic medal. I have a few more years before the next Olympics so I will keep going down the same track and you never know,” Peel said.
However, she knows that fulfilling her ultimate goal will hinge heavily on introducing jumps with a higher degree of difficulty than she used today.
She performed an excellent double twisting double somersault in the qualifying round scoring 87 points to place second, and had to rely on a lower scoring single twisting double somersault in the top four shoot out to snatch victory after the number one qualifier Chinese skier Yu Yang crashed on the final jump of the event to slip and slipped to third.
Although China’s top two aerial skiers, Mengtao Xu and Shuang Cheng, who are one and two on the World Cup aerial standings list, were not competing today, Peel still has good reason to celebrate.
Teammates and World Cup rookies, Danielle Scott and Samantha Wells both scored personal best scores above 80 points for the first time in competition. Scott finished 7th while Wells was 8th. in Austria.
Olympic Winter Institute of Australia CEO Geoff Lipshut said that the result was extremely encouraging for Australia’s aerial skiing and praised the work done by AIS aerial skiing program head coach Cord Spero , program/ team manager Ashley Merkur and Barbara Meyer.
Lipshut, who pointed out that the Australian team will be bolstered by the return of Olympic Champion Lydia Lassila next season, said that all of the program and support staff at the VIS and AIS had been instrumental in the development of Peel, Scott and Wells.
Wells is ninth in world after Austria and Scott is close to breaking into the top 10 rankings.
The team will have a two day break before traveling to the Belarus capital Minsk for the next competition on February 25.