How This Aussie Surfer Became A Winter Sports Star
By Sam Squiers
In the heart of Manly Beach, a young, fit 26 year old races across the sand, surfboard underarm, blonde hair bouncing down her back with every stride. She reaches the waters edge and dives into the ocean before ripping through the waves. It’s the last place you’d expect to see one of the world’s best aerial skiers.
Meet Danielle Scott.
In the winter sports scene, she’s kind of a big deal – currently second in the world in fact. But ironically she admits she’s a summer kind of girl.
“I love my summers – I’m definitely a summer person, I love to surf in my downtime and travel in general.”
Notoriety isn’t what this bubbly Australian seeks and she understands her homeland’s lack of recognition of her success.
To be honest I had no idea what aerial skiing was before I started
“To be honest I had no idea what aerial skiing was before I started,” she laughs.
“It’s a little bit frustrating especially because we have such a rich history in the sport, we have the most Olympic medals in aerial skiing and it’s sad that not many Australians know what aerial skiing is.”
So how did this self-confessed summer loving surfer, find herself chasing winter from one side of the world to the other?
A talented gymnast, Danielle was actually the youngest ever recipient of an AIS scholarship when she was just seven years old.
““a baby still,” Danielle tells Sportette.
“But in the gymnastics world that’s when you need to be training 40 hours a week and really dialling into learning skills because you don’t have the fear and you’re so agile.”
It was an intense environment and Danielle retired at just 13.
Three years later, she caught the eye of five time Winter Olympian Jacqui Cooper and so began her winter wanderlust.
“I had never even skied, I’d snowboarded once, but never skied,” Danielle recalls.
“My coach would constantly tell me to forget that I had skis on my feet and I would be like “I can’t! I have these long sticks on my feet, I can flip and twist and do whatever but at the end of the day they’re still there and it’s foreign”.
Danielle’s gymnastics and thrill seeking background make the perfect marriage in aerial skiing.
“I think naturally I’ve just loved heights and flipping and it didn’t phase me it was the higher the better, when can we go faster, that kind of thing.”
It’s been a steady climb to the top since then. Named World Cup Rookie of the Year in 2012, Danielle realised her Olympic dream two years later at Sochi where she finished in the top 10.
Fast forward another two years and she’s now Australia’s biggest gold medal chance at the next Winter Olympics. Danielle’s carrying on Australia’s strong tradition in the sport which has made household names out of Alisa Camplin, Jacqui Cooper and Lydia Lassila.
And it’s the latter’s feat of a quad-twisting triple somersault Danielle also wants to one day master.
“It’s that next step forward that’s bridging the gap between men and women.”
Lassila was the first woman to complete the move and it raised the bar for all female athletes. including Danielle.
“She’s inspiring so many so to train along side Lydia and to see where the future of the sport can go with what she’s been able to put down for us is pretty cool.”
For now though, this summer loving Aussie is fitting in as many surfs as possible in this brief trip home, before her sand becomes snow and she’s transported to her winter wonderland again.