REACTION: First day of competition for Team Ireland in Beijing 2022

MALONEY WESTGAARD KICK STARTS IRISH CAMPAIGN – DOWNHILL RESCHEDULED

Team Ireland action at the Winter Olympics kicked off today in Zhangjiakou with Thomas Maloney Westgaard finishing 43rd in the 15km + 15km Skiathlon. The Men’s Downhill event in Alpine Skiing that was meant to take place earlier in the day was rescheduled until tomorrow due to strong winds. This means that Jack Gower will now compete tomorrow at 4am Irish time.  The Winter Games run from the 4 – 20 February 2022, with today being officially day two of competition.

The Men’s 15km + 15km Skiathlon is an event that involves athletes racing the first 15km of the event on classic skis, and the second 15km freestyle, on skate skis, switching equipment at the halfway mark. For these Olympic Games the circuit was particularly gruelling, with a significant amount of climbing lending itself to a hard race from the start. Russia dominated the race with Alexander Bolshunov winning gold ahead of teammate Denis Spitsov. Finland’s Iivo Niskanen took the bronze medal.

Speaking after the race Maloney Westgaard who finished 43rd with a time of 1:25.29.8 described a tough race, where the pressure was on from the start,

It was one of the toughest races I have ever done, and at altitude too which has a big impact in these Games. I gave everything I could, I couldn’t really have done anything else. It was extremely tough going, so when you are halfway through you just want to finish really. Of course I dream of bigger places, the third spots and top thirty, but this is how it is. I am satisfied I could give everything and pull off a respectable result.”

Born to a Galway mother and Norwegian father, Maloney Westgaard was pleased to once again be the athlete to kick start the Irish action at the Olympic Games,

CREDIT: Bryan Keane Inpho Sports Photography

“It is nice to be able to kick off the Games for sure, I think I did it at the last Olympics too – it’s a huge honour to kick off the Games for Team Ireland – and it is a huge moment for me to represent Ireland in the Cross-Country skiing at the Olympics, so I am really proud that way.”

His lead into the Games was not ideal, having contracted Covid in early January which resulted in missing out on competitions in the final lead into the Games,

I just look forward to the next races. I came up to this race now without knowing really where I stood because I had no reference really since I hadn’t competed for a month when I had Covid, which had an impact. So I was really unsure really where my form was. It’s good to kick off with a result which I would say is okay, or good when you look at the circumstances. Of course I could have done a lot more, but hey we have two more races to go.”

Alpine Skier Jack Gower was due to compete this morning in the Downhill competition, but strong winds led to the race being initially postponed for a few hours, before the decision was made to reschedule it on Monday 7 February at noon local time, 4am Irish time.

Tomorrow will also see Tess Arbez compete in the Giant Slalom, and Elsa Desmond compete in Run 1 and Run 2 of the Luge.

RESULTS – Sunday 6 February:

Cross-Country Skiing

Men’s 15km + 15km Skiathlon

Gold – Alexander Bolshunov (ROC) 1:16.09.8

Silver – Denis Spitsov (ROC) 1:17.20.8 (+1.11.0)

Bronze – Iivo Niskanen (FIN) 1:18.10.0 (+2.00.2)

43rd Place – Thomas Maloney Westgaard (IRL) 1:25.29.8 (9.20.0)

SCHEDULE – Monday 7 February:

Alpine Skiing

Women’s Giant Slalom

01:30 Irish Time (09:30 Beijing) Run 1 – Tess Arbez #66

06:30 Irish Time (14:30 Beijing) Run 2 – Tess Arbez #TBC

Men’s Downhill

04:00 Irish Time (12:00 Beijing) Jack Gower #37

Women’s Luge  

11:50 Irish Time (19:50 Beijing) Run 1 – Elsa Desmond #27

13:30 Irish Time (21:30 Beijing) Run 2 – Elsa Desmond #TBC

For full schedules, results and information on Team Ireland head to www.olympics.ie, and

DOWNLOAD THE TEAM IRELAND MEDIA GUIDE HERE

The updated schedule for Team Ireland in Beijing 2022 can be found HERE.

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