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Canberra's Laura Peel headed to the Sochi Games

Canberra's Laura Peel will fearlessly spiral up to 20 metres above the ice, jumping for gold in Sochi, but her mother still recalls the 24-year-old's first time on snow.

''She would have been two, I had some skis that strapped on over her snow boots,'' Peel's mother, Teresa Harrington, said.

''It was just a couple of runs down the slope with her between my knees to let her play on snow more than anything else.''

Cooma's defending gold medallist snowboarder Torah Bright is one of the famous faces of Australia's Winter Olympics squad.

The Australian team has been unveiled and is the country's largest ever, with 56 athletes across 10 disciplines. Peel was confirmed as the ACT region's fresh-faced rookie for the Sochi Games, starting on February 7.

The aerial skier was a silver medallist at last year's Olympic test event and is aiming to fight for a podium spot, alongside defending gold medallist Lydia Lassila.


Bright has lived her life on the slopes. She learnt to ski at two, became a professional at 14, has featured as a star on video games and won gold in the half-pipe at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Bright had been hoping to become the first woman to qualify for three snowboard disciplines, but that dream may be over because she is just outside the qualification zone for snowboard cross.

Peel developed her sporting ability with the Canberra City Gymnastics Club and was 19 before she was identified as a potential aerial skier by former world champion Jacqui Cooper.

But Harrington said the seed for Peel to become an Olympian had been planted when her 12-year-old daughter watched Alisa Camplin win gold at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

Before that, aged seven, she'd begged her mother to let her trial for the AIS gymnastics program.

''Gymnastics was really her true love,'' Harrington said of her daughter, who claimed the level 10 national title on the high bars.

''She wanted to try out for the AIS gymnastics program. Being a really mean and nasty mother I said no, she had to learn to read and write first.

''When she was around 12, we saw some aerial skiing and she said 'oh, I can ski and I'm a gymnast, that would be good for me'. She asked me if I could find out about it, but they told me she had to be at least 16 and a level seven gymnast.

''When she was 16 I asked if she wanted to look into it any more and she said no.''

As members of the Canberra Alpine Club, the family would ski together every winter weekend.

Peel attended Telopea Park School and Merici College before turning to aerial skiing.

Harrington has travelled overseas to follow her daughter's progress in the lead-up to the Games.

But watching your daughter flip acrobatically in the air, may not be as frightful as it seems.

''I find them doing backflips on a [gymnastics balance] beam more terrifying,'' she said.