SLOPESTYLE skier Anna Segal is in final preparations for what will be the biggest event of her fledgling career, set to represent Australia at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The 27-year-old Melburnian will vie for gold in the inaugural Slopestyle event at the Games, but admits the nerves are taking over in the final days before the Games.
“Even just a few days ago it didn’t really register that I was going to the Olympics,” Segal said upon her arrival in Sochi last week.
“Just flying on the plane with all the teams on there was just, I don’t know, butterflies is all that I can explain.”
However, the two-time world champion’s preparation has been hampered by a serious knee injury that kept her out of action for several months last year.
Despite spending only limited time back on the snow ahead of the Olympics, Segal is confident she will get through her events unscathed.
“The last year has been a difficult one for me, but I’m more prepared than I’ve ever been,” she said.
“All the mental and physical preparation over the last 12 months for this injury has really prepared me for what is going to happen.
“I think the mental toughness is the most important thing to have and my body’s also feeling pretty good too.”
Now that she’s come face-to-face with the course she needs to conquer, Segal said a great challenge lies ahead for her.
“It seems like all the features are well built – the jumps are huge, bigger than any FIS (International Ski Federation) course,” she said.
“I think this is an advantage because I’ve had a lot of experience on big jumps and big courses.”
Meanwhile, Israel will take a team of five to the Games to compete across three different disciplines.
Alpine skier Virgile Vandeput will represent the blue and white in the men’s slalom and giant slalom events; speed skater Vladislav Bykanov will vie for medals in the 500-metre, 1000m and 1500m races; and figure skater Alexei Bychenko will take part in the men’s tournament, while ice-skating duo Evgeni Krasnopolski and Andrea Davidovich will take on the world’s best pairs.
“I hope we make the finals in every event we enter. I am cautiously optimistic,” said Boris Chait, president of Israel’s Ice Skating Federation and coach of Israel’s Olympic team.
Photo: AP Images/Nathan Bilow