Australian Institute of Sport / NSW Institute of Sport teenagers Britt Cox and Matt Graham both finished in fourth place, while Australia’s most successful Olympian Dale Begg-Smith made an excellent return to international competition after a three year break with a fifth place.
Nineteen-year-old Cox was fantastic from the first run of the day when, for the first time in her World Cup career, she won the qualification round by outpointing American Olympic Champion Hannah Kearney with a performance highlighted by the equal top score for turns and the fastest time down the challenging Ruka course.
Cox continued her strong showing in the first final, for the top 16 qualifiers, by finishing the round in second place, just 0.44 points behind Japanese veteran Aiko Uemura, to advance to the six women final.
Despite another impressive run in the final she was outpointed by Kearney, the eventual winner, with Canada’s Justine Dufour Lapointe in second place and Uemura in the bronze medal place.
Graham, who finished behind the winning Canadian Mikael Kingsbury, second placed Canadian Alex Bilodeau and Japan’s Sho Endo, fought hard from 10th place in the qualification session to sit in fourth after the first final, a position he held on to in the medal round.
Cox said that her achievements today were not a surprise and believes hard work, which included 15 weeks of strength and conditioning work with the AIS together with John Marsden and Jamie Youngson, has brought about the result.
“I’m not too surprised because it has definitely been a goal of mine to be skiing like I am at the moment,” Cox said.
“I’m not surprised but happy things are starting to come together and building the skills which I’m working on each week.
“This is definitely a confidence booster given that this is the first World Cup of an Olympic season.
“The quality of skiing is going to be really high. We noticed today that all the girls are bringing their A-game.
“Being fourth is so close to the podium and there is a little of the feeling that it was right there within my reach but finishing fourth is something that will make me more determined and to build upon.
“Having a great result in qualifying and finishing fourth has shown me what I’m capable of.”
Another thought which is adding to Cox’s positive outlook is the prospect of heading to Steamboat, in the United States, along with other squad members, for further training.
Cox will pay particular attention to her jumps, which she believes was the difference between third and fourth today, and to enjoy Christmas with her family, the first time she has had that opportunity since she was 13-years-old.