2018 Wrap Up: February's Olympic spirit
7 December 2018
AOC: There was one major sporting event that captured the entire nation’s attention in February 2018. The PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, of course!
51 athletes were selected to represent Australia in South Korea in some of the coldest temperatures these winter enthusiasts had ever experienced!
2017 Snowboard Halfpipe World Champion Scotty James carried the Australian flag in the Opening Ceremony. The then 23-year-old went on to win bronze at his third Winter Olympic Games, in one of the closest snowboard halfpipe finals in Olympic history. American Snowboard legend Shaun White won gold with a massive score of 97.75 ahead of Japan’s Ayumu Hirano in silver with 95.25 and James’ strong score of 92.00 secured him the bronze.
The first Aussie medal of the Games was won by 23-year-old Matt Graham who claimed silver in the men’s moguls behind the greatest mogul skier of all time, Canadian Mikal Kingsbury. After advancing through the first qualification run and the first two finals, Graham saved his best run for last, recording a score of 82.57 in the Super Final to bring home the silver.
Australia’s third and final medal went to 22-year-old snowboard cross athlete Jarryd Hughes. The dual Olympian finished just behind Sochi 2014 gold medallist and 2017 World Champion Pierre Vaultier (France) and was joined on the podium by Spain's Regino Hernandez who took bronze.
A spot in the Big Final came after Hughes and fellow Aussie Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin finished 2-1 in the semi-final. Hughes came flying out of the start gate in the Olympic final and managed to hold on to second place, despite a number of athletes, Pullin included, crashing in the final. Hughes crossed the line in second, claiming Australia’s first medal in boardercross and later received the honour of being named Closing Ceremony Flag Bearer.
Australia had more top-six results in PyeongChang than any other Winter Games, with seven athletes making the Super Finals in their respective events.
19-year-old Olympic debutant Jakara Anthony finished fourth in women’s mogul skiing, just ahead of triple Olympian Britt Cox, who finished fifth.
At her second Olympic Games, Laura Peel finished fifth in the women’s aerials; and three-time Olympian and 2014 flag bearer Chumpy Pullin recorded his best Olympic result with sixth in the men’s snowboard cross.
Lydia Lassila made history at PyeongChang when she became the first Australian female to compete at five Winter Olympic Games. Although the dual Olympic medallist was unable to add to her medal collection, finishing 14th overall. The 36-year-old was congratulated by officials, athletes and fellow Australians alike on an incredible Olympic career when she announced her retirement from aerial skiing after her event.
Harley Windsor made history as the nation’s first Indigenous Winter Olympians, and alongside his partner Ekaterina Alexendrovskaya, finished 18th in the Pairs event.
No stranger to an Olympic Games, already featuring twice for Slovenia, Barbara Jezersek made her Olympic debut for Australia at PyeongChang. Jezersek equalled the best ever Australian Olympic cross country skiing result with 33rd in the Women’s 10km free. The result matched Chris Heberle’s 33rd place finish in the men’s 15km Classic event at the Calgary 1988 Games and beats the previous best by an Australian female which had been held by Colleen Bolton.
Olympic debutant Jess Yeaton competed in the most events out of anyone in the Australian Team, racing in five cross-country skiing events, including the gruelling 30km Free race. Plus, alongside Jezersek, the duo recorded Australia’s best-ever Team Sprint Cross Country result, finishing 12th.
And who could forget the ‘Bobsleigh Boys’ of Lucas Mata, Hayden Smith, David Mari and Lachlan Reidy, who finished 25th in the four-man, with Mata and Mari finishing 22nd in the 2-man. The foursome became known at the leading Aussie cheer squad for the Games, making an appearance at almost every sport to hype up their Aussie teammates.