The Australian Institute of Sport / NSW Institute of Sport scholarship holder delivered the run of his career, prompting high praise from AIS moguls ski program head coach Steve Desovich, who described Graham’s result as a “landmark performance.”
Graham, one of three Australian men in the top 11 places, and the youngest of the top 18 athletes in the finals, has always believed that with time he can challenge the world’s best and showed why he has held that self-belief.
While Graham held the limelight on a bright day for Australian moguls skiing, 20-year-old NSWIS athlete Brodie Summers, who has competed in only three World Cup events, surprised many by finishing seventh on the world’s second biggest stage.
Summers’ brilliant result eclipsed his best World Cup result of 32nd, which was recorded in January 2011.
AIS / NSWIS skier Sam Hall finished in 11th, after qualifying in sixth place, to become the third Australian man to record an impressive result.
In the women’s draw teenager Britt Cox lived up to expectations with a top 10 place, a career best at World Championships, while fellow AIS / NSW athlete Nicole Parks was 18th, having made the cut in qualifying and in to the finals.
The men’s title was won by Canadian Mikael Kingsbury, who captured his first World Championships crown, ahead of Alex Bilodeau while American Patrick Deneen was third.
American Hannah Kearney won the women’s title, with Japan’s Miki Ito second and Canadian Justine Dufour-Lapointe third.
After posting results of 27th, 38th and 25th in the first three events of the season, Graham and Desovich devised a simple plan that has blossomed into the teenager’s proudest moment, in the year’s biggest event, which is surpassed in prestige only by the Winter Olympic Games.
Competing in his first full northern hemisphere winter since finishing secondary school last year, Graham realised that an old sporting cliché, of taking it one day at a time, was the key to living up to his potential and kick-starting his promising career.
Desovich said that he is thrilled by Graham’s result and congratulated him on his work ethic and the way he has relentlessly adopted their plan.
“In December he had to dig himself out by the bootstraps,” Desovich said.
“At that point we said to him ‘all you can do is go out and ski the next day and take it one day at a time, one run at a time, one gym session at a time’.
“He was able to claw his way back. He had a 25th, which doesn’t sound like much, but it was a good run. In Calgary he gets a 19th, so he takes another little step. Then in Deer Valley he gets that 10th, in Sochi he gets a 7th and it led all the way to this point.
“He’s slowly gotten himself into a good groove. “
Graham showed right from the start that these Championships would provide the result he was looking for when he recorded a top 10 qualification score, before finishing in sixth place in the first final, largely because of a strong turns score, which was the second best in the high quality field.
Graham’s first final score enabled him to progress to the six-man super final, a career first, guaranteeing him his best ever result even before this stage of the competition started.
He moved to fourth on the final run, a brilliant result for the teenager.