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Anthony inching closer to surreal Olympic experience

7 July 2017

FREESTYLE SKIING: Did mogul skier Jakara Anthony think she was in with a shot at making the 2018 Australian Olympic Winter Team this time last year?

“Olympics in 2018? No way,” the Barwon Heads 18-year-old said. “2022 was originally the goal.”

But as her 19th birthday comes around this weekend, PyeongChang is a distinct possibility after a breakthrough season, which saw Anthony qualify into the Mogul World Cup final in Deer Valley, Utah – finishing 14th, then a ninth in Tazawako, Japan capped off by her first World Championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain with a 12th place behind champion and team-mate Britt Cox.

The World Cup circuit was a steep learning curve for the teenager, but her Asian Winter Games experience, where she finished fifth and carried the flag in the closing ceremony, was the real eye-opener.

“The World Cup circuit is a lot bigger deal than I thought it would be and a lot more tiring than I expected.

“I learned to stay focused and being able to do it on the day matters,” Anthony said of making four finals in the 2016/17 season.

“The Asian Winter Games in Sapporo in February propelled me. It was a big eye-opener and like a mini Olympics.

“It was massive compared to any other event I’d ever been to. I didn’t realise how big it would be or how official with all the other sports and athletes there.”

Anthony experienced the media mixed zone for the first time and is glad of all the experiences in Sapporo as preparation for next February.

“Hopefully, you will be seeing me in PyeongChang.”

For now, it’s all preparation, training and work having spent two months in Whistler on snow and water ramping with coaches Pete McNeil and Peter ‘Toppa’ Topalovic before heading to Mt Buller these the school holidays as a ski instructor.

In July and August she will be heading to Perisher to join the OWIA and NSWIS mogul skiers for training and to compete at the National Championships, after which it’s back to water ramping in Victoria.

“There’s definitely stuff to improve. Speed is a big one for me – to be consistently fast on different courses.”

The moguls World Cup kick off in Ruka, Finland with Australia now fielding an exciting and strong team led by World Champion Britt Cox, Matt Graham and Brodie Summers.

“It’s cool to be a team mate with Britt. Even though I’ve been with her for a while now, I’ve looked up to Britt for a long time. She’s been leading the way since I was young.

“Matt and Brodie are good to be with too. They’ve been kicking it on tour.

“It’s exciting (for moguls) in Australia now and being in OWIA is the top end. It’s great to be a part of it.”

Australian Olympic Team Chef de Mission and AOC Vice President, Ian Chesterman, caught up with the younger mogul skiers in early April, explaining the evolution of freestyle skiing from ski ballet.

“It’s a much easier start in winter sports now, with the support that is on offer,” Mr Chesterman said.

“Mogul skiing has come a long way since the first Olympic event in 1992.”

Belinda Noonan

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