It's all Golden for Australian Winter Athletes

Australia's winter athletes had a massive weekend claiming four gold medals as the FIS World Cup season opens and figure skaters hit the ice for another big event.

The International Ski Federation kicked off World Cup season with a bang this past weekend with Australia dominating the Women's Freestyle Skiing events. Josie Baff emerged as a Snowboard Cross contender at her eighth event on the World Cup circuit. While Ice Dancers Holly Harris and Jason Chan claimed victory in Budapest at the Santa Claus Cup.

Jakara Anthony rules in Ruka

After a stellar 2021/2022 season it might seem surprising that Jakara Anthony has never notched a win in Ruka, a location the Australian Moguls team is familiar with using Ruka as a training base ahead of the season opener for the past three years.

The 2022 Olympic Gold Medalist sat in second after qualifying scoring 78.20, with France's Perrine Laffont just edging her out with a 79.76 despite the Australian's incredible air score.

Anthony cruised through to the final six, scoring 77.58, making the Ruka event Anthony's 10th consecutive World Cup Final 2 berth.

Despite finishing behind Laffont in qualifying and the first final the Australian pulled out a fantastic final run clocking in at 22.63 seconds with the best turns scores of the field and nailing both of her tricks to score 81.69 the lone athlete to crack 80 in the women's event.

Laffont and Japan's Anri Kawamura both scored a 78.33 in their final run to complete the podium, with the tie-break falling in Laffont's favour for the silver medal.

Anthony comes away with the gold medal and the yellow bib as the World Cup championship leader, admitting that she's embracing the target on her back after last year's dominant season.

“It’s my first win in Ruka ever,” Anthony said following her win.

“To kick off the season with the win and the yellow bib is pretty massive. You come into the first event and you don’t know what everyone’s been doing since last season, so it’s exciting to come out and see what everyone can do and show off what you’re capable of.

“It’s a bit of a different experience for me this year, coming off such incredible experiences last season with the gold medal and the crystal globes.

“I’ve definitely got a bit of a target on my back now and I think there’s going to be a lot of learning experiences this season, but I’m really looking forward to it.”

In the men's event, Matt Graham was the top Australian performer, earning a bronze medal at his first World Cup back since his injury, scoring 80.12 behind Japan's Ikuma Horishima and Canada's Mikael Kingsbury.

Cooper Woods and Jackson Harvey both made it out of qualifying, with Woods finishing in 10th, scoring a 76.48 in the first final and Harvey earning 72.56 for a 14th-place finish at his debut World Cup event.

Another Australian to make their World Cup debut in the Moguls event was George Murphy who scored 30.12 to finish in 49th with Murphy missing his bottom jump proving costly.

Danielle Scott is All Class in Season Opener

Australia's top Aerials skiers also made an appearance in Ruka with Danielle Scott reigning supreme with an outstanding back double-full full to put herself well ahead of the rest of the field.

In qualifying Scott pulled off an incredibly clean back full full, the jump favoured by most of the field, scoring 89.77. Scott was joined by Laura Peel who made it through qualifying with a score of 86.62 and Arleigh Frigo whose poor landing resulted in her missing the cut-off with a 48.88.

Scott improved on her bFF in the first final to score 90.09 meanwhile Peel took a risk with a back layout tuck full but struggled with her landing to miss the cut-off for the final six, scoring 70.11 despite the high degree of difficulty score.

There was very little to fault in Scott's final jump receiving the highest score for air, form and landing from the judges coupled with the best multiplier with the bdFF receiving a whopping 99.05 to win in Ruka for the second year in a row.

Scott was joined on the podium by Canada's Marion Thenault in second with a 90.59 and Kazakhstan's Zhanbota Aldabergenova earning bronze, scoring 80.04

Josie Baff wins big at Les Duex Alpes

Josie Baff has been a rising star amongst Australia's winter athletes after she became the first Australian to win gold at the 2020 Youth Winter Games, and in her eighth World Cup appearance, the 19-year-old Australian claimed her maiden win as a senior boarder.

Baff put in an incredible run in qualifying finishing with a time of 1:13.39 to pick up the fourth seed ahead of the races.

The 19-year-old took up the red bib for her quarter-final, beating the rest of the field to reach the semi. In her semi-final race Baff was beaten to the line by Aline Albrecht of Switzerland but by finishing in the top two was granted a place in the big final.

Donning the green bib Baff got off to a great start through the wutangs, slotting herself in behind Lea Casta of France for the opening portion of the course but managed to time the jumps superbly to hit the front, controlling the rest of the race despite the low visibility.

France's Chloe Trespeuch and Casta closed out the podium, while Albrecht finished in fourth following a fall which she recovered from on the second jump.

Stunned by the result Baff thanked her team and family back home in the finishing area.

“I am very overwhelmed right now, but thank you to everyone, my coaches, my wax techs and hello to my family back home,” Baff said.

“I still can’t believe this has happened.” 

Baff becomes the second Australian woman to win a Snowboard Cross World Cup event after Belle Brockhoff who had a great qualifying run putting in the seventh-best time with a 1:13.58 but did not start in the quarter-final bracket the following day.

Cameron Bolton was the top performer of the Australian men finishing in ninth with Adam Lambert in 12th with a solid opening weekend for both men.

Harris/Chan Embrace the Christmas Spirit

Holly Harris and Jason Chan completed Australia's golden weekend at the Santa Claus Cup with a career-first international win, one year after their first medal at an international event.

The Australian Ice Dance duo were just a few points shy of a new personal best in the Rhythm Dance, receiving a score of 69.29 at the top of the field receiving level 3s and 4s for all of their technical elements and mid to high sevens for their components scores.

Skating last for the Free Dance the Australians needed a minimum score of 107.10, a personal best for the pair and eight points above their season-best performance at the Grand Prix last month.

With an incredibly clean first half of the program receiving level 4s for their twizzles, lift and dance spin the pair needed to maximise points from their one-foot step sequence and pattern dance, with the only major blemish on their performance coming from Chan receiving a level 2 for his one-foot step sequence.

Coupled with high sevens and low eights for their component scores Harris and Chan received a score of 108.87 for a total score of 178.16, a career-best score for the pair.

The Australians were joined on the podium by Maria Ignateva and Danyil Szemko of Hungary with a score of 176.39 and Lorraine Mcnamara and Anton Spiridonov of the United States who scored 173.96