Australia claimed its first medal of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics when Matt Graham claimed silver in the men’s moguls overnight.
The world No.3 pumped his fist after passing the line before being awarded 82.57 points in the medal round at Phoenix Snow Park.
Graham, 23, from Gosford on the New South Wales Central Coast, flew down the course, producing a back flip full twist on his opening jump, then navigated the turns of the middle of the course safely and quickly before landing a D spin 10 off his bottom jump and completing a brilliant run.
American Casey Andringa failed to pass Graham’s score, guaranteeing Australia a medal.
The gold fell to Canadian Mikael Kingsbury — considered the greatest in men’s moguls who had never won an Olympic title — to score 86.63.
Graham becomes the 13th Australian to win a medal at a Winter Olympics.
“I was skiing a different line to most people so it stayed really nice and I was able to execute the plan,” Graham said.
An excited Australian men’s aerials star David Morris quickly tweeted his congratulations to his team-mate.
— David Morris OLY (@Aerialskier) February 12, 2018
James Matheson went first in the opening round of the final, scoring a 75.98. He was still in with a shot until the final competitors’ runs knocked him out of the final 12.
Kingsbury was the hottest of favourites for the gold medal, but he surprised by only having the fourth-biggest score in round one.
Graham went for it from his first run, putting on speed and getting some big air on his bottom jump, the 23-year-old finished in a fast 24.89 seconds, and his score of 81.39 immediately qualified him for the next round with eight men still to go.
“It’s a lot of hard years come to fruition,” Graham said.
“A whole life of hard work and it comes down to 25 seconds and one bad turn and it could all be over.”
Sochi bronze medallist Aleksandr Smyshliaev (Olympic athletes from Russia) was a shock absentee from the final 12 after a poor opening run.
Then the second round turned into chaos as a series of competitors either did poorly or failed to finish — including world champion Ikuma Horishima of Japan and his teammate Sho Endo who both crashed out.
Kingsbury’s second run was far from perfect, and his 82.19 was the second top score from round two.
Earlier, Matheson and Rohan Chapman-Davies had competed in the second qualification on Monday evening for the right to join Graham in the final.
Chapman-Davies missed out, finishing 12th, but the Argentinian-born Matheson produced a second run of 74.61 points, to advance by just 0.14 points over Sweden’s Walter Wallberg.
Another Australian, Brodie Summers, who missed the opening qualification after injuring his knee in practice, did not take part in the second qualification session, and his Winter Olympics are over.
– With AAP, ABC