Nerves of Steel


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2006, 56 Minutes

Four fearless young women hurtle towards the 2006 Winter Olympics in a bold Australian scientific experiment to create a champion.

It’s not for the faint-hearted. It’s a head-first, full-throttle slide down a winding, icy track, with brutal consequences when things go wrong. It’s the recently rediscovered sport of skeleton. And, for four fearless young women from Australia’s beaches, it’s their unexpected chance at Olympic glory.

Back in 2004, the Australian Institute of Sport invested in a bold scientific experiment to create an Olympic champion, virtually from scratch. A team of sports physiologists handpicked four elite athletes – a sprinter, a surfer, a gymnast and an all-round athlete – to break into a discipline unheard of in Australia. Now, science is pushing them to new extremes. When the girls signed up, none had seen snow. Yet, despite a bumbling beginning, in just months the Australians would unnerve the traditional winter powerhouses - the Germans, the Swiss and the Canadians.

To get to the Games, the team must work together to get Australia into the top eight. But, in the end, only one of them will be selected to compete.

This exhilarating documentary follows the fate of the team - the athletes, manager and coach - as they hurtle towards the 2006 Torino Winter Games, tracking both the scientific juggernaut and the all-too-human drama on an exhausting six-month tour from Canberra to the US, Canada and Europe.

It’s a nail-biting ride, both on the track and off, as we wait to see if, in the end, the combination of money, cutting-edge technology and red-hot competitive hunger is enough to create the world’s most unlikely champion.

A Film Australia National Interest Program. Produced with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.




Director: Andrea Ulbrick

Year: 2006

Running Time: 56 Minutes

Classification: M. Consumer advice: Incidental moderate coarse language.

SKU 200501100
Brand Film Australia

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