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Australian Anthony leads Olympic moguls

Australia’s Jakara Anthony has laid down an Olympic gold medal marker, finishing on top of qualifying in the women’s moguls at Zhangjiakou on Thursday night.

The 23-year-old blitzed the Beijing course to finish on top of the 30-skier field, while four-time Olympian Britt Cox was in ninth place.

Anthony posted a score of 83.75 to sit clear of defending Olympic champion Perrine Laffont of France, who scored 81.11.

All 30 skiers completed the first run of qualifying with the top 10 skipping the second round to move through to the first women’s final, which will be held on Sunday.

Fellow Australian Sophie Ash finished in 13th while Taylah O’Neill, who has been battling a serious knee injury, didn’t finish.

Anthony finished a surprise fourth at the last Olympics in PyeongChang but arrived in Beijing as a medal favourite after jostling with Laffont and Japanese teen sensation Anri Kawamura in the World Cup standings all season.

The Victorian skier was delighted to transform that World Cup form into Olympic competition.

“I’m really proud and happy with what I was able to achieve just then,” Anthony said.

“I transferred really well from training to competition but there’s definitely still bits I want to work on cleaning up and improving which is a really great position to be in, I think.

“You don’t want to be going into finals maxed out so I’m really happy with where I’m at.”

Out early on the course, former world champion Cox was also thrilled with her performance under the lights, with temperatures dipping to minus 10.

“I was so happy that I was able to put down the run that I was doing in training,” the 27-year-old told AAP.

“I executed the points that my coaches and I talked about and I still feel like I’ve got a little bit left in the tank, so we will see what happens and build on that in training.”

The moguls team are among the first of the 43-strong Australian contingent in China to start their Games competition.

The men’s qualification will also start later on Thursday night.

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