Geoff Lipshut heads Australia’s delegation at the Winter Olympics

January 11, 2022 by Henry Benjamin
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Melbourne’s Geoff Lipshut will head off to Beijing shortly as Chef de Mission of Australia’s Winter Olympics delegation.

Geoff Lipshut

And Sydney’s Ashleigh Werner waits anxiously to learn if she will represent Australia in the bobsleigh event.

AOC President John Coates said that “there’s no better-qualified person to take up the reigns” than Geoff given his long association with Australia’s winter athletes and the Winter Games environment.

“Australia continues to take great strides in the Winter Games and Geoff can take considerable credit for that progress. Not only for his role at past Games but also in his capacity as the inaugural CEO of the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia.”

J-Wire had some questions for Geoff.

JW: You have been involved with the Winter Olympics since 1994. Did you ever compete?

GL: Not at the Olympic level. I was a nationally-ranked mogul and aerial skier when those sports were starting off in Australia. Very briefly ranked in the top two in mogul skiing and top four in aerial skiing in Australia.

JW: What is the role of the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia?

GL: OWIA is an entity of the Australian Olympic Committee and has the singular national responsibility of managing and operating world-class winter sports programs. These very targeted activities provide the best possible opportunities for winter sports athletes in Australia who are minimum top ten in the world and who are likely to be selected to the Australian Winter Olympic Team.

OWIA has this responsibly on behalf of the Australian Olympic Committee, The Australian Institute of Sport, Winter Sport National Federations and in partnership with State Institutes of Sport in Victoria and New South Wales.

JW: Can Australian winter sports athletes train 12 months a year?

GL: Yes but athletes and coaches must travel overseas for some training and all top-level international competition.

JW: They are not strangers to the podium but what events do you think may offer the best opportunities for Australian medals?

GL: Australia’s stronger performances at the Olympic Games have been:

  • Aerial Skiing
  • Mogul Skiing
  • Snowboard Cross
  • Snowboard Half Pipe

But in Beijing for the first time we have contenders in new events:

  • Women’s Bobsleigh
  • Mixed doubles Curling

JW: How many will travel to China for the Olympics?

GL: 40-50 athletes & total Australian delegation size of 120-130

JW: Have you visited the venues?

GL: Yes – in February 2019 for four days, thinking it would be the first of five to seven planning trips. But due to COVID, I have not visited since.

JW: If so, what is your impression of what facilities prepared so far?

GL: The venues are excellent and the overall development of the ski resort area facilities is quite remarkable. As are the civil works of a new freeway and high-speed train from Beijing to Zhangjiakou in Hebei province.

JW: In what sports will Australia be competing?

GL:

  1. Figure Skating – Singles
  2. Short Track Speed Skating – 500m & 1000m
  3. Curling – Mixed Doubles
  4. Alpine Skiing
  5. Bobsleigh – Two Woman & Monobob
  6. Skeleton
  7. Luge
  8. Cross Country Skiing
  9. Aerial Skiing
  10. Mogul Skiing
  11. Ski Cross
  12. Ski Half Pipe
  13. Snowboard Cross
  14. Snowboard Half Pipe
  15. Snowboard Slopestyle
  16. Snowboard Big Air

Ashleigh Werner

JW: Will families and supporters be travelling to China?

GL: Only those with a role on the Olympic Team are allowed to enter China , due to COVID countermeasures.

JW: And what sports do you follow or play in summer?

GL: I follow most sports domestically and internationally. I engage in training regularly for personal fitness

In the meantime, 29-yr-old Sydneysider Ashleigh Werner waits to find out if she has been selected in the women’s bobsleigh team expected to be named at the end of this week.

The Bobsleigh Skeleton website reports: “After being invited to ‘tag along’ to a Bobsleigh Skeleton training camp, Ashleigh produced impressive results during the physical testing phase of the camp, then found herself on a plane to Canada only three weeks later. Once on ice, Ashleigh quickly demonstrated her toughness and tenacity after a substantial accident, as a brakeman, on the Whistler track, where she dislocated her shoulder, tore her rotator cuff and broke her collarbone. Despite her frustrations for missing a number of upcoming races, Ashleigh swiftly had started rehab and was back on the ice within six weeks.

Staying true to the type of athlete who commonly excels in Bobsleigh, Ashleigh grew up playing soccer, touch football, netball, swimming and athletics, and most recently playing Rugby for the University of Sydney and representing NSW in both 15’s and 7’s. Ashleigh also had a professional Rugby League contract with the North Sydney Bears.”

The Winter Olympics will begin on February 4 and run until February 20 and will three areas for competition, Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou.

 

 

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