Matt Graham became Australia’s first medallist of the 2018 Winter Olympics when he took silver in the moguls skiing behind the sport’s undisputed leader, Mikaël Kingsbury of Canada.
Beating the Quebecois was always going to be an ask – he is, after, all the most successful moguls skier of all time, with 48 wins and six consecutive World Cup titles.
Last week Graham, 23, from Gosford, New South Wales, said he could win. And on Monday night he skied as though he believed it. Taking smooth lines and landing deft tricks off the jumps all night, he showed enormous consistency to push through the first two finals in second and fourth place.
Kingsbury offered some cause for hope – his normally sublime turns just a touch off as he eventually moved into the six-man decider as the No.2 skier behind Japan’s Daichi Hara.
Third down the 250m bumps course, Graham delivered up his best run of the night, finishing with an off-axis 1080 and fist pump that suggested against almost any other skier he was a real gold medal show.
But not against Kingsbury. He blew everyone away with a 86.63 run, leaving Graham to admit: “No one can do it like he can.”
Hara skied last and finished in third with 82.19.
“It’s been such a long year, I just wanted to have fun and feel loose and be able to put it down where it counts,” Graham said. “It’s a lot of hard years come to fruition. A whole life of hard work and it comes down to 25 seconds and one bad turn and it could all be over. It’s amazing.”
Like the world champion, Britt Cox, who missed a medal the night before, Graham wasn’t without his struggles coming into these…