“Aerial Skiing is an extreme sport. It takes 3 seconds, you’re skiing at 60km/h, you’re 10m high in the air but when you come off that jump and you hit that perfect take off, it's like time freezes.”

And its in that moment that soon to be two time Olympian Laura Peel finds both her calm and her fire.

“You are just floating above everything. And that… that's a feeling that keeps me going and that's what I chase every day.”

Skiing her whole life and a gymnast from an early age, Aerials was a natural progression for the Canberra native.

And today, we will see her make her second Olympic appearance at Pyeongchang.  Speaking with Laura about her career to date, the Winter Games form a handy timeline for recalling key milestones in her career.

When she remembers her first-ever jump at Mount Buller, it was ‘just before the Vancouver 2010 games’.  Her career highlight, winning World Championships – right after Sochi.

A yoga teacher in her spare time (because I am sure elite athletes have plenty of that?!), Laura talks about that day on course with an enviable calm - like being upside down several stories in the air and coming out best in the world on that day was a walk in the park.

“It was just about focusing on me. I was focusing on my jumps, not too worried about the outcome and I think that was an advantage for me… it was amazing. It's my best memory in Aerials and I'll always have it with me forever."

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Ironically, this high was abruptly interrupted by a low of equal magnitude. An ankle injury right after her world champs win, put Laura out for 12 months.

A tough lesson, but Laura says looking back on it now, it taught her to be a much calmer athlete, to deal with pressure a lot better, to trust in herself and her abilities – and she is excited about taking that with her into this Games.

Laura’s early career progress quickly. A great advantage in many respects, but not without its problems for Laura, like many young athletes.

“I don't know if my mental game really kept up with how quickly I was moving physically. I was very nervous to make a mistake. I didn't want anything ever to go wrong; and of course, things always go wrong.”

With four years training under her belt, Laura feels totally different this time around.

“I’ll be coming to these Olympics in a different headspace and more focused and I think more able to put best self out there.”

While Laura chases the thrill of her sport, another extreme aspect is something she says she never quite nailed.

“A lot of people say to me, “Oh, you’re a winter sports athlete. You should love the cold.” And I love the snow but I'm not sure anyone loves -300; it's horrible... So I love to be warm and I'm an Aerial skier!”

Don't worry! We got you there, Laura - fingers and toes warm in XTM!


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While Korea’s conditions might be something she is less excited for, Laura is looking forward to the buzz of getting back out there.

“Just sort of knowing that you’re back in the game … it feels really good to be back in the fight.”

And despite her calm yoga vibe, there is no doubting this girl is a fighter.

“Pushing my limits every day is a very empowering thing. You know, there's a lot of times when it's not good weather and there are a lot of things that you would rather be doing than turning into a jump.

But being able to face your fears and do that every day just empowers you and shows you maybe what you are capable of. And the sky's the limit!”

We are definitely looking forward to seeing Laura and her teammates, Lydia and Dani fly high in the women’s qualifications tonight at 10pm AEDT at Phoenix Snow Park.

FOR MORE NEWS FROM THE WINTER OLYMPICS
XTM’s own Al Dower will be on the ground in Pyeongchang for the Games, cheering on  the team and sending back all the news as it happens.

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