Who to look out for at the upcoming Winter Olympics
- PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics
AUSTRALIA will send one of their biggest and strongest ever teams to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in February 2018. If our recent World Championship success is any guide, we can expect to seriously contend for at least two gold medals, after Britt Cox won mogul gold and Scotty James snowboard halfpipe gold at the championships.
Combined with former champions, Torah Bright, Alex Pullin and Lydia Lassila, the team exudes a mix of experience and youthful enthusiasm and have realistic chances for up to eight podiums.
Britt Cox and Scotty James are gold medal chances, but do not discount Alex Pullin and Jarryd Hughes in snowboard cross, and Belle Brockhoff was leading the women’s snowboard cross before a knee injury ended her season.
Mogul skier Matt Graham has won World Cup events and is ranked third, Danielle Scott and Lydia Lassila sit second and third respectively on the women’s aerial rankings and Laura Peel is ranked sixth. Sami Kennedy-Sim had her best season ever skier cross season and finished with a podium, so is an outside chance and David Morris, while not ranked highly at the moment did win silver at Sochi 2014 in men’s aerials and bronze at World Champs.
We gaze into our crystal ball and give a glimpse of what could be our greatest games results ever. *Moguls Britt Cox first ventured onto the Winter Olympic stage as a fresh faced 15 year old in Vancouver 2010 and she will return eight years later as the favourite to win gold after a huge breakthrough season in 2016-17. Britt has won gold at World Championships and the overall World Cup Crystal Globe and will be focused to win and will expect gold.
Matt Graham was disappointed with his World Championships, but come next February if he has a steady lead up on the World Cup circuit watch him perform the runs of his life. Matt is a very strong medal chance and could stand atop the podium if his cards fall into place. *Snowboard Cross Jarryd Hughes and Alex “Chumpy” Pullin will lead the Aussie charge and both have won big events including World Championships for Pullin and X Games gold for Hughes. Pullin will want to perform well on what could be a final Olympic games for him. Pullin has that presence and knows how to get the job done and without a doubt could be a serious medal contender.
Hughes time will be 2018 as he has developed over the years to now be a contender week in week out on the circuit, which is a cutthroat business where everyone needs an ounce of luck. Expect him to be the best placed Aussie and a huge medal contender.
Young Adam Lambert burst into the big-time last season, going from being Europa Cup overall winner to then be in the final six at World Championships. A smoky outsider for a medal along with Cameron Bolton who on his day can be up there.
Belle Brockhoff was having her best season ever and leading the World Cup until she blew her knee out last season. Belle will be in full rehab mode and will need to have a few World Cup starts under her belt in 2018 to know exactly where she will stand. You cannot discount her chances as she has proved she is up there with the best and is one tough candidate. *Aerials Have we ever disappointed in women’s aerials? NO. So this time should be no different and Lydia Lassila would like nothing more than to write a glorious final chapter to her career with another medal. Lydia has every chance to be on the podium, and with luck on her side she should just make it to the top step.
Danielle Scott has been working her way up the rankings and is in the best form of her career. Danielle has added experience now after many years and she will produce on the day and be a very strong podium chance. One and two for the Aussie girls would be an all-time result with Laura Peel not out of contention either.
David Morris has shown he has the mettle to reach those dizzy heights of the podium with a silver at Sochi in 2014. David has the ability to come from the clouds and perform for big events and he is an outside chance of a medal. *Snowboard Halfpipe Scotty James is king of the world at the moment in the men’s halfpipe, no small feat when you consider he is competing against Shaun White, the best for over a decade. After a stellar year he can go on with the job and win or at least podium in South Korea.
Torah Bright is almost certain to compete in her favourite event of halfpipe. Torah has virtually taken a year off to just ride and work for her sponsors, but when the whips start cracking expect Australia’s golden girl to up the ante. A podium would not be out of place. *Skier Cross Our best hope of any medal in skier cross lies with Sami Kennedy-Sim, but she is up against a tough field of women and all skiers need their fair share of luck. If Sami can pick up where she left off last season, and raise her bar even higher, she will be an outside chance of a medal. *Slopestyle Everyone among the top ten can podium on any given day and Russell Henshaw has been with the top pack for many years. Ranked eighth at the moment he would need to perform at his best and could possibly be a podium contender. *Other Sports We will send a big squad in many other disciplines such as skating, luge, cross country skiing and alpine skiing.
In short track skating Deanna Lockett has shown positive results with top 5 finishes and could surprise in her favourite event of 1500m. Daniel Greig has shown promise in long track and if he can find any form could be an outside chance in the 500m. Both skaters will attend their second Olympic games
It will be a great atmosphere for all athletes to compete and improve, which is how Australia has gained results over many campaigns. They are persistent, determined and all of Australia will be urging them on. ALPINE NEWS will be attending the 2018 games. Next year you will see all the photo galleries and results in our Winter Olympic features.
◆ MEDALIST: Belle Brockoff will be hoping that a speedy recovery from a knee injury will enable her to podium.
◆ CONTENDER: Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin will be looking at adding to his stash of career achievements.
PHOTOS: Steve Cuff ◆ GOLDEN: One of our best medal chances is with current world #1 Britt Cox in moguls.
◆ AERIALS: Lydia Lassila knows what it takes to take out the top spot and will be aiming for a podium finish.