Charles Sturt students warm up at the Winter Olympics

Charles Sturt University students warm up at the Winter Olympics.Unless you’ve been hiding out in an igloo or buried under an avalanche, you’ll probably know that the Winter Olympics kicked off in Pyeongchang on 9 February.

The snowy sporting occasion only comes round once every four years. So now’s the chance to get your fix of slaloms, triple salchows, fakies and alley-oops.

Australia has taken a team of 51 athletes to the Games, with competitors in events from the bobsleigh and skeleton to figure-skating and snowboarding.

And Charles Sturt University (CSU) is supporting two competitors in particular: a current student and an alumnus.

Laura Peel

Laura Peel is an aerial skier who made her Olympic debut at Sochi in Russia in 2014, where she finished seventh. Laura’s preparation has been fantastic. She secured two podium finishes at the Lake Placid World Cup in January this year. She has a total of five World Cup medals to her name, and won gold in 2015 at the Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships in Kreischberg, Austria.

A qualified yoga teacher, Laura is currently studying a Bachelor of Health Science (Food and Nutrition) with CSU.

Phil Bellingham

Phil Bellingham is a cross-country skier from Mount Beauty who also made his Olympic debut in 2014. He’s been competing in the sport since he was six and won his first national title at the age of 21. Phil graduated from CSU with a Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary) in 2017.

Like Laura, Phil has had an excellent preparation for the Olympics. He claimed the overall International Ski Federation (FIS) Australia-New Zealand Cup title for 2017.

CSU’s Olympic legacy

CSU has a rich history with the Olympic Games. From CSU academics preparing national athletics teams to students taking part in the London Olympics in 2012. Plus, one of CSU’s Pro Chancellors is Olympic legend Kurt Fearnley, who has competed in five Paralympic Games, winning three gold, six silver and two bronze medals.

More recently, two CSU students won gold at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Bachelor of Physiotherapy student, Alicia Quirk from Wagga Wagga, and Bachelor of Educational Studies student, Nicole Beck, were part of the Australian women’s rugby sevens team who took home the gold medal in the sport’s Olympic debut.

Rio also saw three CSU alumni compete, with commendable performances from Amanda Spratt in the women’s road race cycling final, Lyndal Oatley in the equestrian dressage and Ben St Lawrence in the men’s 10,000m.

Helping athletes excel

At CSU we recognise and encourage students’ passions. So if you want to reach your sporting potential and study for a degree, we can help make it happen. Our CSU’s Elite Athlete Program helps aspiring sportspeople manage their training and competitive schedules alongside their university studies – so they can excel at both. The Elite Athlete Program provides assistance with scheduling assignments, exams and workload as well as things like flexible study options, tutoring and travel arrangements.

As Phil Bellingham explains, “CSU’s Elite Athlete Coordinator helped me tailor my course around my training and competing, as well as offering me financial assistance for events like the World University Games.”

Alicia Quirk also found it invaluable. “I was able to extend my course over a much longer period to undertake my placement requirements which has been very handy, especially in the lead-up to Olympic qualification.”

So if you’re dedicated to your sport and want to follow in the footsteps of CSU’s Olympic competitors, the program is definitely worth checking out.

Cheer on CSU’s Olympians

Follow how our students are doing on our dedicated Winter Olympics web page.

And if you just can’t get enough sport, stay up to date on our sports Facebook page.