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Snowy Mountain athletes hit the big stage

Cameron Waddell competed in both skiing slopestyle and halfpipe. Photos courtesy of YIS/IOC.The Australian 2016 Youth Olympic Games athletes have finished their Norwegian campaign, with five athletes claiming medals and 11 top 10 finishes to cap off an outstanding games.
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Jindabyne athletes to compete this past week were cross country skier Liam Burton and freestyle skier Cameron Waddell who competed in both halfpipe and slopestyle.

Waddell came so close to landing his slopestyle run but a slight slip-up saw him finish 13th in his main event at the Lillehammer 2016 Games.

The youngster from Jindabyne, who claimed 9th in the halfpipe, was 10th after the first run before slipping back three positions in what was a talented field of 19.

“It was alright,” he said.

“I tried landing a run but it didn’t really work out as it wasn’t very clean.

“It wasn’t as technical as some of the other boys but I had fun.”

Waddell scored 54.2 on his opening run after a slight fall on the second jump.

He looked more confident the second time down the course but a slight hand touch after one of his jumps saw him only improve his score slightly to 55.8.

“I thought the second run was going to be better but I hip checked on a switch 9 mute but it’s all good.

“I was looking for a little more. I have working on some bigger tricks overseas but the course is what it is. There is always another competition.”

Waddell was the last individual athlete to compete in Lillehammer for Australia but despite the distractions he was focused on performing and landing his run.

“Everyone’s going out and I’m going to bed and waking up early for training and competition but it’s all good.”

The young gun’s smile and positive attitude has been an ever-present part of the Australian team’s campaign, whether out on course or just hanging out with other athletes.

“You just need to always have fun. Competitions can always be stressful but if you’re enjoying yourself that’s all that matters.”

Following a couple more days of fun in the Youth Olympic Village, Waddell will return to the US to continue living his dream.

“I’m going back to California for a couple more competitions and good times I hope.”

In cross country, Liam Burton saved his best for last at the Youth Olympic Games to ski a great distance race on the final day of cross country skiing.

Liam Burton AUS competes in the Cross-Country Skiing Men’s 10km Free at the Birkebeineren Cross-Country Stadium during the Winter Youth Olympic Games, Lillehammer Norway, 18 February 2016. Photo: Jon Buckle for YIS/IOC.

Burton achieved a top 30 finish with 27th in the men’s 10km Free, which was a fantastic result in a country where cross country specialists are constantly produced, so he was up against some stiff competition.

Burton was three minutes behind Magnus Kim, who skis senior World Cup races. The Korean won two gold and a silver from three events here in Lillehammer.

“It’s a really tough course that one,” Burton said.

“I knew there was work to do and I had to work hard from start to finish so I was just talking to myself the whole way through and pushed it as much as I could. I’m really happy with the outcome.”

Burton spent the summer training on roller skis and competing in triathlon events in the national junior series before having the final three weeks of preparations on snow in Austria and Switzerland.

Burton’s parents Tara and Richard were on hand to congratulate him after the impressive performance in the field of 50 athletes.

“We’re very proud he did so well out there he couldn’t have done better,” Tara Burton said.

“He’s worked so hard to get here and worked hard his whole life to get to this stage and we are very proud of him,” Richard said.

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