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Skiing the globe with Laura Peel

Ashleigh Went

At just 25, Laura Peel has accomplished more than many dream of achieving in a lifetime. This January, she took home a gold medal in the aerials at the freestyle skiing world championships and competed in the Sochi Winter Olympics.

“Becoming world champion in January was definitely a career highlight,” says Laura. “It was a huge goal of mine going into the season. I sat down and wrote out what my goals were and originally it was a medal at worlds, and then we changed it to a gold at worlds.

“You set the standards high and you hope to achieve that and it’s not really expected or guaranteed but it’s so exciting when you do.”

Winning a gold medal took more than just determination and hardcore training: for her winning jump, Laura landed an impressive triple twisting double somersault.

“You have to do three jumps but you can’t repeat the same jump. First I did two different variations of a triple twisting double back flip, and then one triple twisting double somersault,” explains Laura.

But the realisation of becoming world champion didn’t occur as Laura landed the jump.

“I went to first place but there were still two girls after me. I knew then that I was on the podium and I was psyched with that, and then the other girls jumps didn’t go as planned so I stayed on top.”

While Laura says that aerial skiing isn’t technical in the skiing sense, the tricks performed in the air require an immense level of skill.

“I was a gymnast my whole life and I’ve been skiing with my family since I was 10 years old, so I was kind of lucky in that I had the best of both worlds.”

Because Australia isn’t equipped with the appropriate facilities, the Australian team spend approximately nine months of the year training.

“For the Australian winter we head back to the northern hemisphere for their summer and train our tricks into giant swimming pools. We are lucky that we’re one of the only winter sports that actually get a summer.”

Come Australian summertime however, the team heads to Northern Finland where Laura says the climate is freezing and there are only a few hours of daylight. “It’s definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve been so far, with the most incredible sunrises and sunsets within a couple of hours of each other.”

After training in Northern Finland for a month, the team follow the world cup circuit around the globe until March, before going on tropical holidays to defrost.

It’s not all sunshine and holidays though. Training for Laura is intense, with many hours spent in the gym at the Australian Institute of Sport.

“It’s pretty full on,” she says, “we have two sessions a day, and gymnastics and trampoline plus sports work and trying to prep the body, because there’s a lot of impact in aerial.”

Unfortunately, Laura suffered an injury a number of years ago and has recently undergone surgery, with another operation scheduled in the coming weeks.

“Unfortunately it looks like I’ll miss this season,” Laura says sadly.

“But it’s the second year of the Olympic cycle and the only year without a major event, so I guess it’s the best year to miss if you have to miss one.”

Laura remains optimistic, and dedicated to her rehab program, focussing on the big picture and her long term goals.

“For now I guess I’m just rehabbing and getting by body strong and back into shape, and then in 2017 there’ll be the World Championships again, and then 2018 is the next Olympic games.”

The excitement in Laura’s voice when she talks about her dreams and accomplishments is audible, and it’s obvious that she loves what she does.

“I love pushing the limits,” she says.

“I love that feeling you get when you achieve something that you never thought you could.”

You can only imagine what the future holds for this dedicated Canberra athlete, and we wish her a speedy recovery and look forward to watching her performance at the next Winter Olympic Games.

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Ashleigh Went

HerCanberra ACTIVE Editor Ashleigh Went has a passion for all things health and wellness. As someone who loves champagne and cheese almost as she loves a sweaty workout, she's all about living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. She can usually be found with her nose in a book, planning her next adventure, in the gym or updating her Instagram @wentworthavenue. More about the Author