ZHANGJIAKOU, China — Jakara Anthony of Australia made it look almost easy, 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 sewed up the gold medal Sunday on the Secret Garden Olympic ski course. 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 took fourth.
The 23-year-old 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.
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.
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 nice with the gold and silver Olympic-themed necklaces her mom had custom-made for her as good-luck charms before each of the last two Winter Games.
Olivia Giaccio of the United States made it to last round of finals and finished sixth. Hannah Soar narrowly missed making the last round.
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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.
American teen Kai Owens made her first official trip down the Olympic course 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 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.