We sat down with alumnus Scott Kneller (BCom/Eng 2015) to discuss his previous Olympic runs. Scott competed at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 and at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 as part of Australia’s freestyle ski team. He competed in men’s Ski Cross at both Olympics.

Q: How long have you been skiing and how did you get into it?

A: I started skiing when I was three, both my parents worked in the industry and I grew up in a ski town (Jindabyne).

Q: When did you realise you should be taking the sport seriously?

A: I was probably in my early teens. I started to get quite competitive, all my friends did too. I grew up and progressed through the ranks and the Olympics became a dream. My idols were the alpine racers such as Jono Brauer. I watched them compete on the world stage and that fuelled my competitive drive.

Q: How did training (and life generally) change once you knew you were to appear in the games?

A: I was training hard but I only got the call two-weeks prior to the Olympics. It wasn’t a ‘Rocky’ montage sort of scenario, it wasn’t a great lead up to the games at all but it was so amazing to have been asked to go to the games.

Q: What was it like when you realised you’d be representing your country in the Olympic games?

A: Pretty surreal really!! It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to walk into an Olympic games - an entire career improving yourself as an athlete. In the lead up to Vancouver, I broke my collar bone (6 weeks prior) sat on the sideline for the qualifying period and was only given a spot in second allocation of distribution. I was the lowest ranked skier to start and I was the second last to qualify…I obviously recovered and managed to still deliver a career best performance and finished seventh overall, with narrowly missing the grand final.

Q: Stepping out (during the opening ceremony), what was that like? How did you feel?

A: Just the idea of all that hard work and commitment to the sport, to realise a goal. It’s not many times in your life that you have THAT moment and you reach an ultimate goal. It’s the point in time when I reached my pinnacle.

Q: Are there any parallels with doing the course you did at UNSW Business School and your training for the games?

A: I think so. Sports and school taught me a lot of things and the three I reiterate to myself:

  1. Every setback or challenge is there to build character;
  2. There’s always a positive in every situation as long as you’re willing to find it;
  3. Anything is possible if you want it badly enough.

Q: Are you still skiing and what are you doing now, post UNSW studies and Olympics (career wise)?

A: I still ski recreationally. I absolutely love it. I retired whilst I was ahead because I didn’t want to be that person who resented the sport. You see that a lot with swimmers but for me I wanted to remain in love with the sport. After UNSW, I studied engineering and I now manage projects. It’s a change of lifestyle and pace but I still enjoy the challenge. The hardest part has been going from a complete expert (in skiing) and having a support team, to going back down to the bottom again and that’s a humbling experience.

Q: Will you be watching the Rio games this year and have you any general advice to the UNSW Olympians?

A: I will most definitely be watching the games and my advice is enjoy the experience! It’s an incredibly unique opportunity and the thing to do is embrace it. You can’t treat it as any other event because the reality is it’s not. You need to feel the excitement and use that energy to drive your performance.

In addition to former athletes like Scott, we profiled all of our current students and alumni who have been competing in Rio at the 2016 Olympic Games. Read our profiles of Rugby Sevens flyer Henry Hutchison (who also featured in an episode of Pulse), Water Polo star Johnno Cotterill, and our silver medalist sailor Lisa Darmanin.