Scott Kneller, When Opportunity Knocks

After a successful skiing career lasting two Olympics, Scott Kneller is now creating opportunities for the community that has given him so many.

“I’ve had a successful skiing career.  I’ve been to two Olympics now, but it’s more the opportunities it’s presented.” Scott tells me of his skiing career, lounging on a beanbag in his onesie.”

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Growing up in Jindabyne

Growing up in Jindabyne, Scott was skiing from the age of three.  With an obvious talent he quickly climbed the ranks of interschools and joined the perisher race club before being offered a scholarship at Thredbo.  He was there for five years before making the switch to ski-cross when he was 18.  “It was the best thing I’ve ever done” he says.  He was over alpine racing at that stage and needing a change. So when the opportunity to race ski-cross came up he took it and never looked back. It opened up the doors for Scott. He had only been racing for 18 months when he went to his first Olympics. “Everything just fell into place so easily”, he tells me.

After the Vancouver Olympics Scott was thinking of retiring, but realised he wasn’t done.  Enjoying it so much and having such a good program in place with AWI. He thought it would be silly to throw it in.  Wanting to achieve  more in his career, he pursued for another four years with great results. Including winning a World Cup.

Major crash

In the lead up to the Sochi Olympics, Scott had a major crash when training in Italy.  On December 22 last year he broke the transverse processes on the left side of his L1, L2, L3 and L4 (the wings off the lower four vertebrae).  He spent 3 days in a hospital in Italy and another 10 days at the AIS European training centre. Lying on his back and pondering his future.  He was finally cleared to fly and returned to Australia on 8th January to commence an intense rehabilitation program at the AIS.  He was selected for the Olympic team, subject to passing a medical exam on 10th February.

Amazing Recovery

It’s an amazing recovery and it says a lot about his character and determination.  He was desperate to compete in the Olympics and wasn’t going to give up without a fight.  The way Scott sees it, he is very lucky to have walked out of the hospital. And even more fortunate to be given the opportunity to return for the Olympics.  He competed in Sochi on 20th February, two months after breaking his back.

The reality of competitive skiing

His injury and the lead up to Sochi brought everything back to reality for Scott.  “It’s a gnarly sport and I wanted to finish while I was still fit and healthy, and young and able to pursue other projects.  I didn’t want to grow to resent skiing and that ‘s the best part of it now.  I still love skiing so much and I think that’s important to finish a career still enjoying doing what you do. And it’s nice to go on a recreational ski holiday for a change,” he explains.

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Scott loving skiing the pow

Pursuing other avenues

Hanging up the boots on his skiing career, after having put a lot of things on hold it’s now time to pursue other avenues in life.  Scott is currently finishing his Civil Engineering/Commerce degree at UNSW and is running a pop-up OnePiece store in Jindabyne and the Rob Kneller Youth Foundation.

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Scott in the OnePiece pop-up store in Jindabyne

Rob Kneller Youth Foundation

Set up by himself and his brother Luke in memory of their father who passed away early last year. The foundation is aimed at increasing participation and excellence in snowsports in the local community of Jindabyne.  For Scott and Luke it’s about giving back.  Having received so many opportunities growing up in Jindabyne. They want to be able to offer similar opportunities to the local students.  Making them appreciate what an incredible backyard they have and the opportunities the snowsports industry provides.

The foundation is about creating projects that are self sustaining, benefit the community and generate money for the foundation.  So far this winter the foundation has run a couple of fun days, riding with Olympians Chumpy and Russ.  They have also built a disc golf course at the Clay Pits in Jindabyne.  With the closure of the golf course at Sport and Rec, they wanted to provide Jindabyne with an activity for all skill levels and ages.  In ski towns all over the world, Scott thought disc golf would be a good fit for Jindabyne.

Life is pretty good for Scott at the moment.  When he’s not in Jindabyne, he lives in the northern beaches of Sydney.  He’s been surfing and going to uni post Olympics and in Jindabyne for the last two months, skiing and opening the OnePiece store.  He is a Thredbo ambassador, so now the only skiing events he competes in are those held by Thredbo, recently winning Thredbo’s Top2Bottom for the second year in a row.

Scott coming from behind to win Top2Bottom

Scott coming from behind to win Top2Bottom

The future

Of the future Scott says “I’m looking forward to the future and the challenges that it offers.  It’s good to move on from skiing and pursue other avenues of life and I’m sure I’ll get into them as much as I did my skiing, I definitely try and put in the time and effort and be the best at everything I do.  I’m sure another project will present itself and I’ll get involved with that.  See what happens.”

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www.scottkneller.com

www.onepiece.com

www.robknelleryouthfoundation.com

www.australiandiskgolf.com

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