7 February 2022

Thredbo basks in bronze glory after Tess Coady's medal win

| Edwina Mason
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Tess Coady on the Olympic podium

Tess Coady (right) is Australia’s youngest woman to win a Winter Olympic medal. She has been training in Thredbo. Photo: Tess Coady, Instagram.

The Snowy Mountains community is basking in bronze glory today after one of their own adopted snowboarders – just months ago training at Thredbo – thrillingly jumped her way to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics podium.

In an excruciating final that saw Tess Coady pitted against an international star-studded field of slopestyle snowboarders including American legend Jamie Anderson, New Zealand gold medalist Zoi Sadowski-Synnott and American silver medalist Julia Marino, the 21-year-old clinched the bronze medal after qualifying in eighth position at the start of finals competition.

After qualifying with the fifth-best jump, Tess, from St Kilda in Melbourne, upped the ante in the final, setting the tone for the rest of the field by being the first athlete of the competition to score over 80 with an 84.15.

The score placed her in third position, after which she had to endure a nervous wait in front of the camera as she watched the world’s best try to beat her — but at the end of the wait was pure elation.

Tess held her place on the podium alongside Sadwoski Synnott, who scored a gold-medal-winning 92.88, and silver medallist Marino, whose best score from the judges was 87.68.

The bronze medal goes down as Australia’s first-ever Olympic medal in the snowboard slopestyle competition and the 16th medal Australia has won in Winter Olympics history.

Tess also becomes Australia’s youngest woman to win a Winter Olympic medal.

The win was a screamfest for all who know about Tess and her challenging journey back from injury in recent years.

Tess qualified for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games as Australia’s youngest competitor at just 17 but a season-ending knee injury during a training run on the Olympics course ruled her out of competition.

READ ALSO Winter athletes head from Snowys to Beijing with gold in their eyes

She missed the 2018-2019 season as she recovered from injury, but made a highly successful return to competition in the 2019-2020 season.

Afterwards, she said: “[The injury] was totally the kick up the arse that I needed to just get to work. In that whole year [rehabbing] I saw everyone getting so much better than me and when I got back on the snow, that were no excuses from there.”

Tess was among a fleet of young, talented Winter Olympians and Paralympians, including Valentino Guseli, Jarryd Hughes, Ben Tudhope, Abi Harrigan and Josie Baff, who had been chosen as ambassadors of Thredbo resort.

Tess Coady in action

Tess upped the ante in the final, setting the tone for the rest of the field by being the first athlete of the competition to score over 80 with an 84.15. Photo: Olympics.com.au.

But even their pre-Olympics training schedule was not without its challenges as the resort was forced to shut down for two weeks due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

An official exemption was secured to provide a training resource for the young athletes, delivering an exclusive, custom-made training facility on home soil to practise in preparation for the Olympics.

The Australian-first installation featured a 22-foot-high walled halfpipe – the only one in Australia at the time – a huge 70-foot jump plus an array of other Olympic-sized features.

It meant the athletes were able to continue their training in their very own backyard only months out from heading to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games which started last week.

National Freeski head coach, Leon Tarbotton said he was grateful to Thredbo for providing an Olympic-standard facility with such short notice.

READ ALSO Jindabyne’s golden girl reflects on making history at 2020 Winter Youth Olympics

“In the past, there have been national teams who have had to travel to New Zealand or overseas to get this sort of training facility and to have it in our backyard for the first time is outstanding,” said Mr Tarbotton.

Thredbo marketing manager Caroline Brauer said the team at Thredbo couldn’t be happier to see Tess on the podium.

“We’re super excited to see that Tess’ commitment and hard work over the years has resulted in an Olympic bronze medal,” she said.

“Tess is a true champion – she is humble, talented and a great inspiration to many. We can’t wait to see Tess continue to dominate the global stage into the future.”

Right now, for Tess, the celebrations continue, as she reached out to thank the wider snowboarding community and everyone who had backed her in the past four years.

“Tripping …” she said, “that was insane. Thank you snowboarding.”

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