Smooth run on bumpy course nets Anthony Olympic moguls title
Written by Cole Havens on February 7, 2022
By PAT GRAHAM AP Sports Writer
ZHANGJIAKOU, China (AP) — Jakara Anthony doesn’t watch anyone race before her. She avoids glancing at any scores, too.
The approach keeps the stress away and frees her up to ski like this: to a gold medal.
The 23-year-old from Australia made it look almost easy Sunday, breezing through the bumps as the last competitor of the night to capture the women’s moguls title at the Beijing Olympics.
Anthony’s back flip with a grab at the bottom all but sewed up the win on the Secret Garden Olympic course. She instantly knew, too. Maybe not so much that she had secured the top spot, but that it was good enough to be win-worthy.
“I was just so happy with that and content with that and no matter what the outcome was, I was going to be stoked,” she said. “To see the No. 1 come up next my name, it was incredible.”
Her score of 83.09 edged Jaelin Kauf, who was poised to pick up the first gold medal for Team USA at this year’s Winter Games. Russian athlete Anastasiia Smirnova earned the bronze and defending champion Perrine Laffont of France was fourth.
Anthony joins Dale Begg-Smith as the only Aussies to win the Olympic moguls event. Begg-Smith earned his title at the 2006 Turin Games.
Her reward may just be to treat herself to one of her favorite spots — the beach.
“If I had to go somewhere right now, I’d love some warm weather,” Anthony said after competing in the frigid temperatures.
Maybe some ice cream, too. A celebratory scoop.
Anthony needed to be at her best after Kauf’s electric run right before her. Although Kauf was faster from top to bottom, Anthony’s form appeared a smidge cleaner and her jumps a little more difficult.
Still, it was an incredible bounce-back Olympic performance for Kauf, who entered the Pyeongchang Games four years ago as the top-ranked moguls skier only to finish a disappointing seventh.
The difference was simple: focus.
“I was skiing to win every single round,” Kauf said of her strategy this time around. “I wanted to walk away with absolutely no regrets in my skiing and just put it all out there 100% every time.”
Kauf is the next generation of daredevils in her family. Her mother, Patti, and father, Scott, picked up plenty of moguls titles back in their day. But she now has the nicest prize of all — an Olympic silver medal.
The hardware will pair nicely with the gold and silver Olympic-themed necklaces her mom custom-made for her as good-luck charms before each of the last two Winter Games.
“That’s going to go great with it,” Kauf said with a smile. “I’m just so happy right now. I honestly can’t believe it.”
Olivia Giaccio of the United States made it to the last round of finals and finished sixth. Hannah Soar narrowly missed making the last round.
Anthony added to the big day for the Southern Hemisphere at the Genting Snow Park. Earlier and just a quick walk away from the moguls course, Zoi Sadowski Synnott captured New Zealand’s first Winter Games gold in the women’s slopestyle competition, while Tess Coady of Australia took bronze.
In the slopestyle race, American Julia Marino was looking at gold before Sadowski Synnott’s winning run. Same thing with Kauf before Anthony came through in the clutch.
“I’m just over the moon,” Anthony said. “I’m just lost for words.”
American teen Kai Owens made her first official trip down the Olympic course Sunday after sitting out the opening round of qualification the other day because of a swollen eye suffered in a nasty training crash. Owens earned a spot into the first and second round of finals before being eliminated.
This has been quite a journey for Owens, the 17-year-old American who returned to the country where she was born for the Beijing Games. Abandoned at a town square in China as an infant, she was taken to an orphanage and adopted at around 16 months by a couple from Colorado.
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