Freeskier Anna Willcox shows she's fast learner
Just three years after taking up freeskiing, North Shore's Anna Willcox will compete in the debut of the women's slopestyle at the Winter Olympics tomorrow night.
The 21-year-old only took up competition park skiing after leaving school. She has progressed swiftly, spurred on by a talented family which includes her father Hamish, an Olympic sailing coach, and brother Daniel, a top 470 class sailor who hopes to compete at the Rio Olympics.
Willcox said her family background, which included travelling around the world as a youngster, was part of the reason she had developed so quickly into a world-class freeski exponent.
"I think it definitely has given me a competitive drive since I was young - being the best you can be - which is what I'm trying to do in my sport," she said.
"I sort of fell into it because I always loved skiing but I never really did much of it. I think just having a strong passion for something, if you love it that much you want to do it every single day and you want to be the best you can at it," Willcox said.
In the past year, Willcox has been training and travelling with the New Zealand team during the Northern Hemisphere winter.
She competed in six world cups, along with other competitions over eight months and three different continents in an attempt to qualify for Sochi.
She placed third at the World Cup final in Sierra Nevada, Spain, last year, but competing at the Olympics will be the biggest moment of her short career.
"It's everyone's dream to go to an Olympics and represent your country. I'm definitely just beginning and I'm so excited to see what the future has for me. I'm going to give it everything."
Canadian teenager Dara Howell leads the AFP world rankings for women's slopestyle, ahead of United States skier Maggie Voisin and her superstar compatriot Devin Logan.
Willcox is ranked 24th in the world and hopes to take good form into the Games.
"I've been really happy. It's been a consistent and solid season and I've been able to gain confidence. The training has been going well and I'm excited to ski in the competition," she said.
"I'm just really excited to put down my runs, ski the absolute best and be really proud of what I've done, to come away from here knowing I've done everything I could."
The Southland Times