Jakara Anthony, Australia's freestyle ski queen, has opened up the defence of her overall World Cup moguls crown with an emphatic victory in Finland that suggests she could be more dominant than ever in this campaign.
In the season's first World Cup outing in the Finnish resort of Ruka, the 25-year-old Olympic champion looked in a class of her own as he she demolished her opposition to win by a substantial 4.5 points from US rival Liz Lemley.
Anthony followed up her historic Olympic win in Beijing with a magnificent 2022-23 season, winning four World Cup moguls, plus a silver and a bronze, to claim another crystal globe as the season's champion.
But she admitted at the end of her triumphant campaign that she had suffered some unspecified behind-the-scenes challenges, saying in an Instagram post: "From the outside it looked like I was on top of things, but that wasn't quite the reality of it.
"The truth is I had a really tough time this season. It resulted in me having to withdraw from some events.
"I want to thank my family, friends, coaches, team and wider support network for sticking by me and supporting me through both the good and the bad times."
Now the good times look like they're here again as Anthony appears to have begun the 2023-24 season in consummate form, scoring 83.12 and 84.18 for her two runs on Saturday - the only skier even to top 80 points.
In the final, she was awarded 84.18 to Lemley's 79.68, with US bronze medallist Olivia Giaccio scoring 76.35.
In the equivalent men's event, Anthony's compatriot, 2018 Olympic silver medallist Matt Graham, opened his account with an outing scored at 76.12, not quite enough to earn his place in the top half-dozen.
Fellow Olympian Cooper Woods also made it through qualifying, eventually finishing 16th with 62.44.
Competing in the first World Cup event in China since the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, snowboard slopestyle Olympic bronze medallist Tess Coady recorded the best big air finish of her career by taking home the silver medal.
Coady's two-jump combined score of 171 points was good enough for second spot behind dual Olympic big air champion Anna Gaser of Austria (174).
"Super happy with how this competition went in China, I love the jump, it's one on the best city big airs in the world," said the 23-year-old Coady.
At the Les Deux Alpes resort in France, Australians Adam Lambert and Josie Baff finished fourth in the mixed snowboard cross team World Cup event, just missing out on the medals in the Big Final won by the British duo of Huw Nightingale and Charlotte Bankes.
The Small Final was won by another Australian duo of Cameron Bolton and Belle Brockhoff, who thus finished fifth overall.
Australian Associated Press