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Last Updated: Monday, 6 March 2006, 02:44 GMT
Australia plots success on snow
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Dale Begg-Smith
Dale Begg-Smith delighted Australia by taking gold in Turin
Australia, one of the world's flattest, driest countries, is to invest US$45m (25m) in a bid to become a Winter Olympics powerhouse.

It has announced plans to build a state-of-the-art training centre in the southern city of Melbourne, where temperatures this week exceeded 30C.

For such a sunburnt country, Australia was delighted with its two medals at last month's Winter Games in Turin.

It won gold in the freestyle moguls and a bronze in the women's aerial skiing.

It hopes to boost its medal chances further at the Vancouver Games in 2010.

The facility in Melbourne will cater for a range of activities, including speed skating, ice hockey and curling.

Obsession with sport

It is an ambitious attempt by this warm, dry continent to make an even bigger mark on future Winter Olympics.

Short track speed skating and figure skating will also be included at next year's Olympic Youth Festival here in Sydney.

Parts of south-eastern Australia do boast high quality Alpine resorts where talented skiers and snowboarders learn their trade.

It is the summer Olympics, however, where Australia has carved a formidable reputation.

That is due mainly to world class training facilities, the weather and a determination to win that often borders on the obsessive.

Australia's athletes will need that competitive spirit if they are to challenge the Winter Games heavyweights.

The rest of the Olympic family may need a lot more convincing.

One Australian skier said she hoped one day that event organisers around the world would stop inadvertently calling her an Austrian.

Begg-Smith soars to moguls gold
15 Feb 06 |  Winter Sports

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