Tricky and Icy Conditions Cut Austin’s Day Short at the Youth Olympics
Icy conditions and a tricky turn resulted in a DNF for Team Ireland’s Emma Austin in the Giant Slalom at the Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne today. The Irish Alpine Skier was the 58th starter in the first run, and joined nineteen other non-finishers in the race, and will not start in the second run later this morning. At the halfway mark in the Giant Slalom European athletes dominate nine out of the top ten rankings, with Finland’s Rosa Pohjolainen leading with 1:04.99 seconds.
While the course wasn’t excessively steep, Austin went wide on the same point as several other skiers on a particularly difficult turn. Disappointed with her result, Austin described the point where she went out,
“I was having an okay run up until then. Obviously, I wanted to go as fast as I could, and I was having an okay run up until then. I just took a little too much risk and started getting late and I hipped out and went out.”
In Alpine Skiing athletes get to go down the course once, in what is called the inspection, where they have one opportunity to check out the race-course. During that inspection the athletes slowly ski down, in what they call side-slipping, or skiing on the side of the skis. That’s when they examine the course and make their game plan.
Once the skiers are ready to race, the team coach stays with the athlete at the top of the mountain, and the team manager moves to a position where they can monitor how other skiers are navigating the course. Team Ireland’s athletes are supported by Team Manager Derek Bolger, and Coach Alan Untergassmair who communicate with each other throughout the competition, feeding back information.
“Right before I went Derek (Bolger – Team Manager) had radioed up to Alain (Untergassmair – Coach) and told me to watch out for this one gate that had a little rut in it” Austin, explained, “Even after I had DNF-ed there was a group of girls standing on the side who had DNF-ed before me, so there’s definitely one spot that’s tricky and I wish I had approached it a little bit better, but ski racing is ski racing.”
The New Hampshire based seventeen year old has one more chance to compete at the Youth Olympics, when she races in the Slalom next Tuesday, “I’m disappointed today, but I’m ready for attacking the Slalom now that I have a little fire in my butt to get going. The Slalom is my better event anyway so I’m hoping I’ll have a better bib and I’m really excited, I’m really ready to go for that!”
Austin will have a break tomorrow while her teammate Matt Ryan competes in the Giant Slalom. Ryan has already competed this week, and is familiar with the conditions, having competed in the Super G and the Alpine Combined.
A strong performance in the Alpine Combined Slalom for the Massachusetts based skier yesterday has boosted his confidence, when a top seventeen performance helped him jump up the rankings by twenty places to finish 25th overall.
Racing kicks off at 09:00 Irish time tomorrow for the first run, and the second run takes place at 11:45. The final rankings will be determined by the combined time of the two runs for athletes.
The Youth Olympics run from the 9-22 January with all the Irish interest occurring between 10 – 14 January with Alpine Skiers Matt Ryan and Emma Austin.
They are competing in the third edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games, with the Alpine Skiing taking place in the ski resort, Les Diablerets.
The Winter Youth Olympic Games have complete gender balance, with the same number of males and females competing, and they are a sustainable-games with athletes and competitors using existing transport systems. Over the course of the games almost 1900 athletes are competing in 8 sports, which cover 16 disciplines and 81 sporting events! To maximise sustainability the sports are run in waves, with Alpine Skiing featuring in the first wave.
The Winter Youth Olympics in Lausanne, Switzerland will be the first of two major events for Team Ireland in 2020, with the Summer Olympics taking place in Tokyo later this year.
RESULTS (AFTER THE FIRST RUN)
First in Ranking Rosa Pohjolainen (Finland) 1:04.99
Second in Ranking Hanna Aronsson Elfman (Sweden) 1:05.38
Third in Ranking Caitlin McFarlane (France) 1:05.48
DNF Emma Austin (Ireland)