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Is Australia’s long wait for Winter Olympic gold about to end?

It’s been 12 years since an Australian woman has claimed the biggest prize on snow and ice but there’s now renewed hope the drought could be over as early as Sunday night.

No-one’s counting their chickens yet because there’s absolutely no guarantees in extreme winter sports, where the tiniest slip can spWinter ell disaster but don’t anyone go to bed early because if Australia’s rising moguls star Jakara Anthony can stay on her skis she has a real shot at the podium.

Can Jakara Anthony take home gold? Picture: AFP
Can Jakara Anthony take home gold? Picture: AFP

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Fourth on her Olympic debut four years ago when she was just a teenager, the Victorian is now entrenched among the best and most consistent performers and has already laid the challenge to her rivals since arriving in Beijing.

Showing no signs of nerves, she easily finished top of Thursday’s qualifiers after a breathtaking run down the bumpy course then declared she can do even better in Sunday’s three-stage final series.

“There has been a four-year build-up to this, so to finally get the chance to ski at the Olympic stadium was a phenomenal feeling,” she said.

“It was a really good run but there were some things I was happy with and things I definitely did better in training, so I definitely have a lot of room to improve on that.”

That’s a frightening prospect for her closest competitors, particularly France’s Perrine Laffont and Japan’s Anri Kawamura, but that counts for nothing because moguls is one of the most unforgiving of all the skiing disciplines as there are so many dangers.

Australia have plenty on show to start the Games. Picture: Getty Images
Australia have plenty on show to start the Games. Picture: Getty Images

Competitors not only have to navigate their way down the steep, bumpy slope as fast as they can but they also have to impress the judges with their technical ability on the turns, and wow them with their jumps.

That’s where the 23-year-old Anthony has an advantage over her rivals because she’s the only woman in the world who can nail a Cork 720 mute, one of the hardest tricks in moguls that involves a full flip with two rotations and a grab of the skis in mid-air.

But the Olympics creates more pressure than any event in the world so she’ll also have to do it when the heat is on, if she makes the final six where the medals will be decided by a single run.

It promises to be a white-knuckle ride because to be the very best, competitors need to take risks and push themselves to the absolute limit, both physically and mentally.

“We do all sorts of training, and strength is a really big one for us,” Anthony said.

“You’re taking a lot of impact in the moguls and on the jumps so you need to be as strong as you can, particularly in your legs.

“We do some aerobic training and we do anaerobic training.

“A run is about 30 seconds, so we really need to be working that lactate which is not fun.

“There’s a lot of other bits in between, some speedwork, tricks, everything really.”


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