AERIAL SKIING: David Morris rewrote wintersport record books today when he became the first Australian to win a men’s World Cup aerial skiing event and in doing so ended the season as the highest ranked Aussie male in the discipline’s history.
Competing in the last World Cup event of the year in the Ukrainian resort of Bukovel, Morris captured his debut victory after an 11th hour decision to compete in the event.
It was not until last Monday that the Australian aerial squad made a last minute call to enter the Australian Institute of Sport / Victorian Institute of Sport athlete in the Bokovel event, to chase a season ending ranking within the top three.
However, the decision to go to Bukovel delivered an even better result, with Morris finishing the year as the number two ranked aerial skier in the world.
The 28-year-old secured today’s gold medal ahead of second placed American Dylan Ferguson and Belarus’ Maxim Gustik in third.
Morris went into today’s event ranked fourth in the world, 11 points behind third, with hopes of achieving a pipe-dream victory.
Given that Morris had only once before stood on a World Cup podium, a third place this season, some of his opponents may have under estimated the newly found brilliance of the Australian and his ability to win.
Morris said that everything slotted into place today after qualifying in fifth to progress into the first final.
It was then that Morris hit a new high, earning top place in the final scoring an impressive 119.91 points, 0.44 of a point ahead of Switzerland’s Thomas Lambert.
In reaching the super final, the Australian landed a double full full full, to run away with the win by 7.36 points.
Not surprisingly, Morris said the win was the highlight of his career.
“It sounds pretty clichéd but when I woke up today, I said to myself ‘I’m going to win this thing today’” Morris said.
“I knew that if I won I would go into second place overall.
“Training was pretty standard. I don’t usually train amazingly but it was OK. I landed one of the three jumps I did.
“My jump in the super final wasn’t spectacular but it was good enough and I landed it better than anybody else.
“I got to the bottom and I looked around and all my friends said ‘oh my goodness you did it’.
“It is very hard to explain what it means because there are so many things to how I got here. It is the most meaningful result I have ever had, no doubt.
“I needed it so badly to prove things to myself and everyone. I’m not just here in the background doing my thing. I’m quite capable of winning. It’s huge and so important.”
“This is a huge step up. It shows that I have come back way better,” he said.
“I took the season off after the Olympics. The Olympics were a huge high for me.
“Everyone goes through ups and downs. I wasn’t prepared for the down period. I walked away from it.
"But I knew it was right for me. I went home, finished my university degree and got all my stuff done at home.
“Then I kind of got bored. I had some unfinished business and came back and funnily got it done.
“I have always had a pretty good skill base and we have always had great coaches and training with one of the best teams in the world.”
Morris attributes his success this season to basically keeping calm during competition.
“I used to be so nervous or excited that much of my energy would disappear,” he admitted.
"I’ve been working on breathing and making sure my heart rate comes down and ignoring everything around me.”
Morris praised and thanked his coaches, in particular AIS aerial skiing head coach Cord Spero and sports psychologist Barbara Meyer, for the best season of his career.
Morris now heads to the World Championships in Voss, Norway, starting March 7, as a strong prospect and will join Australia's female members of the squad who elected not to compete in Bukovel.
In another result from the weekend, AIS / NSWIS moguls skier Sam Hall finished with a World Cup career best eighth place in Inawashiro, Japan.
Results – World Cup aerial skiing, Bukovel, Ukraine
1. David Morris (AUS), 2. Dylan Ferguson (USA), 3. Maxim Gustik (BLR), 4. Thomas Lambert (SUI), 5. Travis Gerrits (CAN), 6. Andreas Isoz (SUI).
World Cup standings after round seven and end of season
1. Zongyang Jia (CHN) 414, 2. David Morris (AUS) 332, 3. Guangpu Qi (CHN) 321, 4. Dylan Ferguson (USA) 277, 5. Travis Gerrits (CAN) 274, 6. Dmitri Dashinski (BLR) 269.
Olympic Winter Institute of Australia (OWIA)