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Aussie defeats Olympic gold medallist

27 August 2011

Sixteen-year-old Australian Matt Graham scored an upset win over current Olympic gold medalist and world champion, Alexandre Bilodeau, in the ABOM dual moguls competition at Victoria’s Mount Buller today.

And the female member of the Australian Institute of Sport / NSW Institute of Sport moguls team also shared the glory with 16-year-old sensation Britt Cox winning her event.

But due to the credentials of Bilodeau, the day belonged to Graham, a secondary school student from Gosford, located on NSW’s Central Coast, about 76 kilometres north of Sydney. Bilodeau, 23, won the dual moguls at the world championships in 2011 and 2009 and the moguls Olympic gold medal last year in Vancouver.

Today’s third and fourth places went to Korea’s Jae-Woo Choi and Australia’s Hugh Norton, who skied off in the small final.

Graham’s 13 to 12 points win completes a hat-trick in the annual Mt Buller classic, an event that the Australian has “owned” since his first victory in the competition as a 14-year-old.

Despite the importance of the win, the AIS / NSWIS athlete chose to “keep a lid on things.”

“The win kind of makes me feel pretty good,” Graham said.

Graham conceded that today’s win “was a little more special” than his victory in the National Moguls Championships at NSW’s Perisher resort last weekend.

AIS mogul skiing program head coach Steve Desovich was also relatively low key, describing the win as a “positive result and well earned” but stressed that both he and Graham need to keep the victory in perspective for the future.

“We know that Matt is going to have his work cut out in World Cup this year as there are probably 20 or 25 guys with his ability,” Desovich said.

“Today was a good result but we must now keep our focus on making solid progress at the World Cup level over the next years in the lead up to Sochi 2014.”

Cox’s win gave her back-to-back ABOM victories, which was achieved in convincing style over compatriots Taylah O’Neill, Nicole Parks and Pip Sparrow in fourth place.

Cox, who finished second in the first of two competitions at Perisher last weekend, enjoyed the benefits of months of hard training focused on achieving bigger jumps and speed.

“I skied much better today as a result of being faster and more direct, with bigger jumps,” Cox said.

Over at Falls Creek, Czech cross country skier Petr Novak finished ahead of Australians Alex Almoukov and four-time winner Ben Sim to win the  30-kilometre Kangaroo Hoppet, the largest snow sports competition in the southern hemisphere.

Novak, who represented his country at the last world championships, won by about one minute, while Almoukov and Sim were separated by just two seconds.

The leading group of athletes were bunched together for the first two laps of the course, which was shortened from 42-kilometres, but the power and resilience of the Czech surfaced towards the end of the race, when he established his winning gap.

Australia’s Callum Watson secured the Australia-New Zealand Cup, despite finishing in fourth place.

Australia’s dual winter Olympian Esther Bottomley notched her second Hoppet win finishing four minutes and three seconds in front of Australia’s Lescinska Grimmer, with Lucy Glanville a further minute back.

Results- ABOM moguls competition at Mt Buller:
Men: 1. Matt Graham (AUS), 2. Alex Bilodeau (CAN), 3. Jae-Woo Choi (KOR), 4. Hugh Norton (AUS).
Women: 1. Britt Cox (AUS), 2. Taylah O’Neill, 3. OPip Sparrow (AUS).

Kangaroo Hoppet cross country skiing at Falls Creek:
Men: 1. Petr Novak (CZ) 1:16.04, 2. Alex Almoukov (AUS) 1:17.02, 3. Ben Sim (AUS) 1:17.22, 4. Callum Watson (AUS) 1:19.04.
Women: 1. Esther Bottomley (AUS) 1:38.12, 2. Lescinska Grimmer (AUS) 1:42.22, 3. Lucy Glanville (AUS) 1:43.27, 4. Aimee Watson (AUS) 1:46.01.

Ski and Snowboard Australia

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