By NATALIA HAWK
Here’s a fun fact to bring up at your dinner party tonight: there are only 200 days to go until the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics. Get ready for Sochi 2014, everybody.
And to celebrate, the Australian Olympic Committee launched the official 2014 Sochi website, naming all 120 athletes that are hoping to compete at the games. Only 50 of those athletes will actually make it to Sochi, and the next 200 days will be determining who qualifies and gets to hop on a plane to Russia.
But there are some athletes that have already made it onto the team. And one of these athletes is Anna Segal – a brilliant skier and the subject of this week’s Sport on Saturdays interview.
Anna and I have a bit in common. We’re both females in our mid-20s. We both have K2 skis. We both have blonde hair.
But that is where the similarities end – because Anna is ridiculously talented when it comes to skiing. Born and bred in inner-city Melbourne, she grew up being dragged to the slopes every weekend by her ex-ski-patrol mum.
“We’d go up every weekend after mum finished work on Fridays,” Anna explains to me. “Four kids into the car and we’d drive three hours up the mountain, stay there for the weekend, ski and then she’d drive us home. I don’t know how she did it, after a full week of work.”
Ironically enough, Anna hated skis when she first got on a pair at the age of four and used to “throw little tantrums” at ski school. But it was great family time, and they kept going back, and she eventually got hooked – as is usually the case with most people who try a skiing holiday.
She started skiing on the weekends in a little race club group, doing international races, and then started skiing moguls (a series of bumps in the snow which are a horrible, horrible experience for anyone less than a skiing expert) at the age of 14. At the age of 16 she was signed up to the Australian Development Team – a team aligned with the Australian Institute of Sport, meaning that she began getting government grants and funding to start competing on a more international level.
An ACL injury at the age of 18 meant that Anna had to take some time out to rehabilitate – and that’s where she decided that she’d give slopestyle skiing a go. “I like to describe slopestyle as a skate park, made out of snow, downhill,” Anna says when I ask her to explain the sport. “So there’s a variety of jumps and rails and obstacles that they set up with the course. You get to choose your own line down the course and the idea is to do the most spectacular run you can do. You’re judged on technical difficulty, style, creativity and flow.”