FREESTYLE - SKI SLOPESTYLE: Australia’s Anna Segal has gone agonisingly close to an historic Slopestyle medal at the Sochi Games by finishing fourth at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on Tuesday.
Segal’s effort is the closest any Australian athlete has come to winning a medal at these Games.
The 27-year-old was in the bronze medal position after her first run and stayed there right until the end of the competition, only to be bumped off the podium by the last skier that could, Canadian Kim Lamarre.
“I kind of knew. I know her skiing and I know what the judges reward and I saw her stomp everything and I thought ‘yep, she’s got it’,” Segal said.
Lamarre moved into the bronze medal position with 85.00 points to surpass Segal’s 77.0 from her first run.
Melbourne-based Segal crashed on the final jump of her final run, which until that point had been cleaner and bigger than her earlier three runs of the day. Segal scored just 28.80 for that run.
“I came up to the jump and thought ‘I’m going to go for it’, went for it, didn’t have enough speed, landed, but I’m really glad that I tried it,” she said.
Canadian 18-year-old Dara Howell won gold with her sensational first run which earned 94.20 from the judges to be the event’s first Olympic champion. She was also the top competitor in qualifying.
American Devin Logan who was ranked fifth coming in to the final won the silver with 85.40 points from her first run.
With the pressure of the Olympic final there were some big crashes on the course. The experience and mental toughness of the 27-year-old Australian shone through.
“The last year has been the rollercoaster ride of my life,” a relieved Segal said.
The 2011 World Champion, shrugged off a cold and a preparation severely hampered by a knee injury to put herself right in the medal mix.
She even admitted she wouldn’t have skied in this competition if it wasn’t the Olympics and that she probably would have gone home for surgery.
“This road has been so long. I’ve seen so many of my friends from other countries go down, blow ACLs [anterior cruciate ligaments], not get selected on teams and the fact that I’m here, still skiing, I’ve got no regrets really.”
Earlier, in qualification, World Champion Kaya Turski (CAN) failed to progress to the final after two spectacular crashes and World Cup winner Keri Herman (USA) didn’t have her best day when it mattered, finishing 10th.