Golden Girl

By 07/02/2022News

Article by Julian Linden courtesy of the West Australian.

Gold medalist Australia's Jakara Anthony poses during the award ceremony for the women's moguls at Genting Snow Park at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022, in Zhangjiakou, China. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Jakara Anthony, take a bow, because this is the stuff that dreams are made of.

Australia has a new Winter Olympic champion and a hero to a new generation of skiers.

Anthony has become just the sixth Aussie to win the greatest prize in winter sports after her historic victory in the women’s moguls in Beijing late on Sunday night.

Australia’s first champion in 12 years, the Victorian joins one of the country’s most exclusive clubs, alongside Steven Bradbury, Alisa Camplin, Dale Begg-Smith, Torah Bright and Lydia Lassila.

And just like each of her predecessors, Anthony earned her gold medal the old-fashioned way, with skill, guts and nerves of steel.

“It’s 5am here and I have not been to bed yet, so it has been a big night,” Anthony said on Channel 7 a few hours after winning gold.

“It was my childhood dream come true and that is something so special and I was so lucky to be able to share that with my team there and have everybody back home watching it and it was just an incredible experience.

“It has taken a lot of work and there has been a lot of really tough times but the processes that we have put in place and we have really committed to solidifying have really shown to come through with the goods and I’m really thankful for all of the time and effort that they put into me and the person in the athlete that they have helped me become.”

Jakara ANTHONY of Australia competes in the Women's Moguls Final at Genting Snow Park A & M Stadium in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province on Feb. 6, 2022. Anthony became the first Australian to earn the gold medal in the winter Olympic games. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )

With ice in her veins, she almost made it look easy as she led after every round but that was misleading because moguls is one of the hardest and most unforgiving skiing events in extreme winter sports.

It is not a discipline for the faint-hearted because competitors have to put their bodies on the line every time – racing down a steep, icy slope packed with bumps.

Every trip down the course is a white-knuckle ride but the trick is to get there as fast as possible while also impressing the judges with an assortment of flips and spins along the way down.

The margin for error is ludicrously small with tiny slips resulting in skiers face-planting in the snow.

Serious injuries are common but to win gold, the best have to go all in, skiing right on the edge of control.

Asked about the danger element to her sport, Anthony said: “I think that moguls look a lot worse than they feel. We are actually already pulling the pressure off the bum before we hit it but the most difficult part of the course is definitely what we call the ski out once when you have to land the topic and transition back into the moguls and make it look like you never stop skiing.”

A calculated risk taker, that’s what Anthony did better than anyone else – and that’s why she ended up with the gold medal after receiving a winning score of 83.09 points in the six-woman super final in the Zhangjiakou mountains.

Her win capped an unforgettable day for the Australian team in Beijing after Tess Coady collected bronze in snowboard slopestyle earlier on Sunday.

It marks the first time Australia has won two medals in a single day at any Winter Olympics and comes 20 years after Bradbury and Camplin won the country’s first gold medals in Salt Lake City.

Following on from the performances of Australia’s swimmers and paddler Jess Fox at the Tokyo Olympics and Ash Barty winning the Australian Open, there is no longer any doubt we are in the midst of a golden era for Australian sport.

Anthony wasn’t the only Australian woman in the moguls final.

Britt Cox, another Victorian who won the 2017 world championship and was appearing at her fourth Olympics, finished 14th.

And Sophie Ash, on debut, came 16th. From a talented family, her sister Gabi is in the Australian aerials team.

But all the plaudits rightly went to Anthony, the 23-year-old who hails from the sleepy Victorian coastal town of Barwon Heads.

A natural who started skiing when she was just four, Anthony has been earmarked for greatness from a young age, rapidly going through the junior representative ranks then onto the world stage.

She was selected for the last Olympics in PyeongChang in 2018 when she was just a teenager but showed what she was made of by finishing fourth, seemingly unaffected by the pressure-cooker atmosphere that the biggest event in Winter sport brings.

She has gone from strength to strength ever since, winning a silver medal at the 2019 world championships and finishing on the podium at all but one of the seven World Cup meets she has entered this season.

At the highest level, there’s not much between the best in the world, with a handful of talented women all capable of winning on their day.

But what sets the Australian apart is that she has a trick up her sleeve that no-one else does.

It is called a Cork 720 mute – a full flip with two rotations and a grab of her skis in mid-air – and is so outrageous that hardly anyone else in the world will even attempt it but it’s what helped her get the gold and become a legend.