MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – The Olympic Winter Games are getting more extreme and Freestyle Skiing is at the forefront of this development. This year at Sochi four new freestyle categories will be added, namely Ski Slopestyle and Ski Halfpipe for Men and Women, adding to the excitement of the events at Extreme Park in Rosa Khutor. The sport has a young Olympic history, it has only been an Olympic medal sport since the games in Albertville 1992. Moguls became a full medal sport in 1992, while Aerials had to wait until Lillehammer 1994 for that status. For this year’s Winter Olympics Australia is sending a particularly strong team to the Olympics, amongst them one of the most famous winter athletes of all times, Dale Begg-Smith, who is making a comeback to the sport after a 3-year absence due to injury.
The 29-year old mogul skier already won gold in Turin in 2006 and silver in Vancouver in 2010. During the following break due to issues with knee, hip and back, he was not even sure whether he would return at all. “I think I always had in the back of my mind that I would, at some point, want to return,” Begg-Smith said. He kept going to the gym, contemplating whether to give those moguls another try, keeping an eye on his fellow Australian skiers: “I saw the team improving and you kind of get the itch when you see the Olympics coming up,” he said. “These are fun to come to. I thought I’d come back, work with the guys a bit, see if I could learn how to ski again.” And at the World Cup in Ruka, Finland in December he demonstrated that he indeed still knows how to ski.
When asked about his expectations of his performance in Sochi he said “Most important is just to get down the hill. It’s just like riding a bike.” Dale Begg-Smith is best known for his skills on the turns in moguls rather than the jumps. While both elements are equally weighted under moguls rules, he is a little concerned that aerial tricks now make up the majority of the sport. When asked whether his relatively short preparation time or his previous injuries would hold him back during the competition, Begg-Smith answers without any hesitation: “If I’m going to get injured, I’d prefer to do it during the event. I’m not worried about getting injured from the sake of, ‘Oh, it hurts,’ point of view.”
Dale Begg-Smith was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, where he began skiing at a very early age. Dale trained tirelessly alongside his older brother Jason, and they competed for Canada in various mogul skiing events. At age 16, Dale and Jason moved to Australia, resulting in an involuntary competition break while they had to wait for their Australian citizenship. Even though that break made the transition difficult, it ultimately turned out to be a rewarding decision. They greatly matured as athletes and got to train with some of the best mogul coaches and teams. Dale is a proud Australian and an avid philanthropist, who spends time volunteering with young Australian mogul skiers and has donated to many causes and charities over the years.