Downhill rules for triple Olympian Greta Small – she loves the speed and has no fear of fast. Faster the better in fact. She’s skiing strong, recovered from career threatening injury in 2019-20.
Trent Abberfield caught up with her with in Falls Creek for a Q & A ahead of the season.
Greta Small has competed at 3 Olympics so far, starting in Sochi as a just 18 year old in 2014.
She doesn’t remember her first time skiing, but it was as a 2 year old on plastic skis at Mount Buffalo, Victoria’s sadly defunct ski area that her home now sits in the shadow of.
Then it was Ski Club at Falls Creek and Mount Hotham, then on to Interschools for Scots in Albury.
“I can’t ever remember a time when I couldn’t ski!” she says. Like a lot of Aussie kids in skiing families, she grew up with a week at the mountains every season. Because her dad was in the airline industry she was also fortunate to go skiing in Europe once a year.
She used to pester her mum to get every issue of Snow Action from the newsagent in Albury, so we’ll take a bit of the credit for how fast she turned out.
No question, Alpine Skiing is the pinnacle and the hardest nut to crack in snow sports, to mangle a few metaphors. Only one Aussie female has won a World Cup Alpine event (and World Championship gold plus Olympic bronze) ever, and that’s The Right Hon. Zali Steggall MP. She did it in Slalom.
In the speed disciplines it’s still a total podium blank.
So just to be there competing with the big Alpine ski nation teams is a feat in itself.
Which was your favourite Olympics and why?
Oh this is so hard (laughs), they are all different and unique! I loved them all.
Beijing had the best uniform and the race suit and accessories were beautiful. There was a focus on reconciliation and the uniform designs reflected that. I felt very proud to wear them and the History of Indigenous Australians in the Olympics. For the record our to date only indigenous winter athlete has been Harley Windsor, who competed in the Figure Skating in 2018.
Which race course scares you the most?
Oh none of them scare me, I have respect for them but I would not be able to do what I did if fear was a factor. The most difficult for me is one of the newer runs on the World Cup circuit in Zauchensee, Austria. It was a challenge for sure.
(Laughs again) This one is easy, the Downhill. It’s so fast. I love the speed and the challenge of those runs.
What’s the course you like the most?
Cortina in Italy. I love its traditional style and Northern Italy is so pretty. It’s a great circuit to race on. Also it’s where the next Winter Olympics are being held.
Favourite place to ski in Australia?
Ok well now I can say this is easy, Falls Creek Victoria! It’s beautiful and the people are lovely and the skiing great and at the end of the day it’s ski in to Astra lounge for aprés.
As a Falls Creek Skier and Instructor I have to say, great answer! What about internationally, what’s your fave?
Val D’Isere in France. It’s where we used to go in northern winters as a family, I just love it there
Who Motivates you?
Mum and Dad do, without them it would have been impossible to compete at this level for this long. They have inspired and supported me to this day.
My idol though was Lindsey Vonn, she was the skier who’s poster I had on my wall. I loved watching her 2008 World Cup campaign and then in 2010 at Vancouver. The highlight was to compete against her at the World Cup and then see her win Bronze in Pyeong Chang. That was pretty cool.
Your proudest/happiest moments in Skiing?
Oh OK, let me think (long pause for a long think)..
Probably my happiest moment was standing in the leader’s box and ultimately finishing 15th in the Alpine Combined at the World Cup.
The proudest was to come back from serious injury and finish 15th in the 2020-21 World Cup. (Greta suffered a serious almost career ending injury in 2019-20 season).
What Motivates you?
The joy of skiing, the pursuit of excellence, the competition, the joy that comes with the constant improvement of my skiing and of myself as an athlete
Last question, will there be a fourth Olympics?
(Huge smile) Yes! It’s at my favourite venue Cortina! I want to be there so badly.”
Thanks Greta, we’ll be watching when you do!