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Morris finishes 10th in men's aerials final

18 February 2018

FREESTYLE SKIING: David Morris has finished 10th in the men’s aerials final at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games and has “ticked a lot of boxes” in this Olympic campaign.

Morris, 33, did not progress to the second round of the final after scoring 111.95 for his back full – double full – full, putting him in tenth place. Only the top nine progressed to Final 2.

Morris was pleased with the jump he put down but the field produced high scoring jumps. The leader, Guangpu Qi of China was awarded 127.44 for his execution of the same trick.

“We tried our best, it is what it is. Tenth is a pretty sweet result and I’m happy with that,” Morris said.

“We’re in an Olympic final so that’s awesome and this competition is top class so even to be here is quite the privilege.”

Despite a deep landing, Morris was in contention to progress until the final competitor, America’s Jonathon Lillis, completed his jump and slotted into seventh place.

Tenth starter Zongyang Jia had a stumble at the tail end of his landing but still managed to scrape in above Morris.

Morris said his coach Jeff Bean spoke to the judges at the conclusion of the round for clarification.

“They said they’ve given (Jia) four metres of controlled skiing which is what you need after landing so… they discounted the last part because it’s not part of the jump so unfortunately we can’t really argue against that,” he said.

“That’s the rules, that’s fine. I’d love it if it was 10 metres or 20, or you had to ski out of the whole zone, but that’s not how it goes.

“(Judges) see it once in fast motion and have to make a very quick decision and it’s their decision and I’m fine with that.”

Ukrainian athlete Oleksandr Abramenko claimed gold with a score of 128.51 for a back full – full – double full, followed by Jia (CHN) winning silver and Ilia Burov (Olympic Athletes of Russia) finishing with bronze.

Morris made it into the final after succeeding in Saturday’s repechage round, where he finished second in the round.

The Sochi silver medalist was determined to perform a high difficulty five-twist jump he has recently mastered at the Olympic final, but was saving it for the Super Final of six from which the medal winners would be decided.

“I was just building up to it, we have a certain step process that we have to get to that skill.

“It was a little disappointing I didn’t get to do that in the comp, but as a career goal I wanted to do that on snow and land it and today I did that… so I’m very happy with that, that’s a big box ticked for me.

“I can walk out of here really proud of this year.”

Morris said that after Sochi Olympics in 2014 when he won silver, he was unsure whether he would continue with his sporting career.

However, this PyeongChang campaign had dispelled any doubt by allowing him to achieve new goals.

“Coming back I was wondering whether it was worth it after Sochi and the first two comps back I was second and third and I was number one in the world, and the next year was a world championship medal which I hadn’t got (before),” he said.

“Then this year I got three flips and five twists so progressively I got better and better so I’m really happy with my career as a whole and (now I will) take a bit of time off and reconsider what I want after that.”

Morris has shown great courage through adversity in recent times, with his mother being diagnosed with cancer just weeks prior to the PyeongChang Games.

However, Morris said his family agreed that the Olympics were his focus and that he should pursue his professional goals before returning home to Melbourne to be with his loved ones.

“The support I’ve had my whole career is fantastic so my message for mum is I’m safe, I’m healthy, I’m in one piece, I’m alive, I’ll come back and we can deal with everything as a family.”

Next, Morris will take time out at home to focus on personal matters before considering his next professional move.

However, he already has one eye on the future – just not his own, so to speak.

“I’m going to try to look into a bit of coaching, we have some development athletes at home that are in drastic need of some good coaching,” he said.

“I’ve been chatting to them helping them out a bit so it would be nice to get them on the right path and see how far that goes.

“I promise nothing, I’m happy at this point, I’ve ticked a lot of boxes in my career, but I enjoyed it so much that to come back in an environment like this would be amazing.

“It’s hard to leave this environment, like Lydia (Lassila) said this is what we’re used to we love this stuff.”

Candice Keller

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