Aussie team gets off to a flying start
Australia’s two Olympic moguls contenders Britt Cox and Matt Graham scrapped through to the Olympic finals after yesterday’s qualifying run, but have been put on notice they will have to ski faster to have a crack at the medals.
Both skiers had tense waits at the bottom of the hill at Phoenix Snow Park in yesterday’s qualifying rounds to confirm automatic finals position.
The top 10 went straight through to the women’s final tomorrow and the men’s final on Monday, although those that missed out will have another chance in the repechage round.
Cox, one of the first competitors on the Olympic course, ended up in sixth spot. She remains one of Australia’s best hopes for gold in a Winter Olympic team rated our best ever.
Graham just squeezed into his finals spot with a nerve-racking ninth-placed finish.
“Anything can happen in the final,’’ Graham said.
But of concern to the Australian moguls coaches was that Graham had looked to have been marked down by the judges for his turns after completing a clean run.
“It’s a judged sport, I will just look and see what went wrong,’’ Graham said. “I came off a pretty good training day yesterday, I was quite happy with how I was skiing and I just came out and wanted to replicate what I was doing.
“I definitely feel a lot more con- fident this time around than four years ago, I’m older and wiser and know the competition a lot more now.”
Cox, 23, said the course “was ripping’’ and she had a lot of fun, especially being one of the first to compete in the first Olympic event, held even before the opening ceremony.
But she has noted the cleaner and quicker turns of the top two qualifiers, Perrine Lafont of France and Andi Naude of Canada and said there was work on her technique to clean up during a training run on the weekend. Her overall time was slightly slower than some of her higher-ranked competitors, so she will have to trade off some style on the turns to ski more aggressively.
“I just watched my run with my coach and there’s definitely some things I want to fix up. I’m really excited to get back on the course and train, and ramp it up a little bit for the finals.”
She said she was trying to treat the Olympic competition as she would any other world cup, except that the Australian team had plenty of supplies of Vegemite to make her feel at home.
“It’s a physical warm-up, getting mentally fired up but staying loose and relaxed and confident and making sure I’m enjoying myself. And often when I click into my skis, that feeling of enjoyment always comes back to me.”
Other Australians Madii Himbury, 24, Jakarta Anthony, 19, and Claudia Gueli, 21, finished midfield in 14th to 16th positions and have shown they will be in a contention to qualify in the next 10 positions available in the repechage rounds. In the men’s competition, Rohan Chapman-Davies was 17th and James Matheson 23rd.
The news wasn’t good for his teammate Brodie Summers, who withdrew just minutes before the competition started, having experienced sharp pain in his knee while warming up. Summers injured his anterior cruciate ligament last September, but before this setback was confident his knee was responding well to rehabilitation.
Australian moguls skier Matt Graham gets airborne during his qualifying run to open the PyeongChang Winter Olympics at Phoenix Snow Park yesterday