Who to look out for at the up­com­ing Win­ter Olympics

- PyeongChan­g 2018 Win­ter Olympics

Alpine News - - Contents - By Steve Cuff

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.

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