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Aussies swap skis for surfboards

24 February 2018

PYEONGCHANG: While the 2018 Winter Games may go down in history as one of the coldest on record, there was no stopping a group of Australian Olympians swapping the skis for surfboards at Gangneung on Saturday.

Instead of wowing audiences with their speed, agility and tricks, the skiers instead turned heads at Yeongjin-gil Beach as they braced the cold waters of Korea's east coast to catch a few waves and make memories that will last a lifetime. 

Emerging from the surf in her wetsuit, head cover, gloves and booties, dual Olympian Danielle Scott couldn't contain the excitement of having her first dip in the ocean in months -- even if it was only four degrees. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BfklF77HJ4z/

"That was epic, I'm so glad I came here and did that," she said.

"I haven't been in the saltwater since probably November and before that May. I miss the beach and this is pretty epic, I'm going to remember this forever.

"We had so many layers on while we were competing and to just have a wetsuit on now in this water [is] unbelievable, I never would've dreamt of this."

https://twitter.com/AUSOlympicTeam/status/967229600634830848

Alpine skier Harry Laidlaw, who made his Olympic debut at PyeongChang, thought that there was "not a chance" he'd spend a morning surfing within driving distance of the slopes. 

"It's crazy, I don't think I've been anywhere you can ski and surf 15 minutes apart," he said.

"I don't surf a whole lot becaue I'm mainly skiing the whole time but it's nice to be in the water for sure."

https://twitter.com/AUSOlympicTeam/status/967229967959441408

Athlete Services Manager and two-time Olympian Scott Kneller, who organised the trip for Laidlaw, Scott, James Matheson and Rohan Chapman-Davies, said the experience was one he would never forget.

"To be at an Olympic Games with good friends and come and do something so unique and be out in the ocean in such a unique part of the world ... it was just a surreal kind of experience," he said.

"Quite often you go to a World Cup or an Olympic Games and you're there to compete, you see very little of the country. I felt like these Olympics, our athletes have got out and about quite a lot, they went to the Demilitarised Zone yesterday and then today surfing.

"We've seen a lot of the countryside and a lot of the things that make Korea unique, it will make it a memorable experience for our athletes. They'll obviously remember their competition but to be able to experience the culture, the people and the location itself -- that's what makes an Olympic Games memorable."

Check out the image gallery from the surfing session HERE>>>.

David Barden
olympics.com.au

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