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Snowboarders get Olympic-sized halfpipe boost

Australia's winter sport specialists will soon be able to train at home with an Olympic-sized halfpipe being built in Thredbo, with dual snowboard medallist Scotty James also dipping into his pocket to build a mini pipe.

Thredbo will be the first Australian resort to build a 22ft (6.7m) halfpipe for Olympic training during the southern hemisphere's winter snow season that will be open to all elite athletes.

James took home silver in the snowboard halfpipe at the 2022 Beijing Games while 19-year-old Valentino Guseli is also near the top of the world rankings, both without a dedicated Olympic facility at home on which to train.

Back in October 2013 sponsors of American snowboard legend Shaun White built such a pipe out the back of Perisher as he prepared in secret for the Sochi Olympics where he was bidding for a third straight halfpipe gold medal.

The giant cutter for the project, worth more than $250,000, was left behind but sources at Thredbo said the new halfpipe was being built by equipment owned by Stomping Ground Project and unrelated to White.

Thredbo general manager Stuart Diver said they were proud to help Australia's elite athletes prepare for the next Winter Olympics in Milano-Cortina and the next generation of snowboarders and skier reach their potential.

"Supporting Australian athletes and our ambassadors like Scotty James to train on home snow is a huge achievement," Diver said in a statement.

"Scotty is a front-runner for an Olympic gold medal in 2026 and we're honoured to be part of his journey.

"We thank Scotty for his generous donation and look forward to welcoming him to Thredbo."

Early next month the National Snowsports Training Centre in Jindabyne will be officially opened, which is a $12.8 million high-performance facility that includes sports medicine, huge air bags for jump practice and expanded administration facilities.

The opening coincides with Australia's best winter sport season (2023-24) which saw 58 Aussies podium, 18 of whom collected gold medals.