Anna Segal is Australia’s secret ski slopestyle weapon at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. The Melbourne born and bred skiing pocket rocket has won Gold, Silver and Bronze at the X Games in slopestyle, which utilizes both terrain park features and giant jumps, between 2008 and 2012 and won herself World Champion Federation of International Skiing Status in 2011.
A knee injury knocked her out of the 2012/2013 Northern Season competitions but not before scoring herself two bronze FIS podiums on the world circuit.
When did you first take up skiing?
I was actually too young to remember. My mum put me on a pair of skis at Mt. Buller when I was four. Apparently I wasn't a huge fan of it for the first couple of years. However when I hit the age seven and discovered that when on skis, I could romp around the mountain with my friends without much parental supervision, it became my favourite past time.
When did you first compete in slopestyle and who introduced you to the sport?
I was 16 when I entered my first slopestyle comp. It was the Rip Curl Pro at Mt. Hotham. I was more focused on mogul skiing at the time, but I also loved messing around in the terrain park. Mt. Buller used to have a fun little rail set up which a lot of the skiers and snowboarders would spend all day sessioning. No one really introduced me to slopestyle or park skiing, I just saw other kids doing it and wanted to join in on the fun.
What do you love about slopestyle?
I love that it incorporates creativity and style alongside technical difficulty. There is no right way to do any certain skill. Everyone can add their own flavour to the most simple trick to make it stand out. There are endless possibilities, which makes slopestyle an exciting sport.
What do you need to have to succeed in slopestyle?
As with any elite competitive sport, you need a fairly level head in order to be able to compete under pressure. On top of that, you need to be willing to take a certain amount of risk. I like to think of it as calculated risk. But trying a new trick for the first time, with the possibility of falling 5 meters out of the air onto hard snow, is always going to be a little unnerving.
Talk us through your typical day?
I don't really have a typical day! It really depends where I am in the world and at what time of year. At the moment I'm in Sydney, rehabbing a knee injury in order to get back to my on snow training. I wake up, drive to the physio and do pilates for an hour. Then it's back home for brekky. After that, I'm off to the gym for a 1 1/2hr weights sessions. Then it's back home for lunch during which I ice my knee. After this it's time for my cardio session, which can be anything from sand dune sprints to swimming, stand up paddle boarding or a road bike. I then try to do a recovery session in the ocean before dinner. Rehabbing is hard work.
Do you do any other sports?
I really love surfing. I'm not very good, but it's the only thing which gives me the same kind of satisfaction as skiing. I also like bouncing on the tramp, running, swimming and yoga.
What would you like to do when you stop competing?
I would like to finish my uni degree, of which I have 3 semesters to go. I'd also like to continue skiing, but rather than competing, I think I'll spend my time skiing powder!
How does it feel when you win and are on the podium?
Being up on the podium after winning a big competition is a surreal feeling. I often feel like I'm in a dream and am worried that someone will rudely wake me up. After it all sinks in, usually the next day, there is time to reflect and feel proud that all your hard work has paid off.
How does it feel when you lose and how do you cope with that?
Not skiing to your potential during a competition is a horrible feeling. In the past has discouraged me and has even taken a toll on my confidence. However I've worked on this and am learning to just wipe it from my mind and move onto the next task at hand. Learning to deal with disappointment in the right way is a priceless skill and something I know will fare me well later in life.
How has slopestyle skiing helped you be a better person?
I have learnt how to focus on myself and not get distracted or put off by what others around me are doing. I think this stops feelings of anxiousness and jealousy. I try to do what I can with what I have, to the best of my ability.
Follow Anna’s journey to the Sochi Olympics on her website www.annasegal.com.au