There were mixed fortunes for Team Ireland in the Slalom at the Winter Youth Olympics in Lausanne today, with Emma Austin finishing in a strong twenty-eighth position out of 78 starters with a time of 1:42.02 and Matt Ryan being recorded as a DNF. This was the preferred event for both athletes, who were competing on day five of the competition, and on the final day of action for Ireland.
Austin started the day strongly by bettering her seeded starting position of 51 with a 35th place and time of 51.66. In the Slalom there are two runs, with the overall being based on the combined total of the time it takes to complete both runs. A clean second run secured 28th for the Irish racer, with a time of 1:42.02.
“It was really fun, much better than my first run, I think. I was a little less off the pace than I was in the first run,” the New Hampshire racer said after the race. “I was in the game, it was a good run, it was fun, and it was good to end with a top thirty.”
After the first run the course is switched around to optimise the good snow, as the impact of almost 80 racers having already come down results in ruts on the course. However, they keep the combinations much the same, “this course was basically the same, with different combinations, different types of turns, and I think I just skied it better the second time because I was ready for it and used to it.”
Out of 78 entries in the Slalom, there were only 37 finishers, and Austin’s initial emotion was relief, “It feels really good – unfortunately Matt DNF-ed today which was upsetting and disappointing, so I really wanted to put one down for Ireland in it.”
In the men’s event Ryan looked set for a good position, with a good opening section, but went a millimetre out on the first roll and straddled a pole, which caused one of his skis to come off and resulted in a DNF for the Irishman.
Describing the chain of events, Ryan said, “I felt the course was going well up top, there were a couple of tight gates up top, and then on to a hairpin. Then I swung decently in the first pitch to the first roll, and the ski just popped off halfway through, so it is what it is.”
The Slalom was Ryan’s target event, and his form last Saturday in the Alpine Combined Slalom indicated that he was on course for a top twenty result, with the top ten his personal goal, and already he is looking ahead to the rest of the season, “I’m pretty disappointed right now, I’ve worked really hard for this event. I was hoping for better things, but it moves on. I’m heading back to the US looking for some good results there, so I’ll be back at it and good to go. I’ve got time.”
The slopes in Les Diablerets were challenging, with all events in Alpine Skiing featuring a high number of DNFs, and the Irish athletes suffered a share of those non-finisher results. After the first run today, Austin described the Slalom course as demanding, “The course is extremely demanding. I’m happy I finished because five girls after me didn’t, so I’m happy I got down and I have a second run.
“They set the course as turny as humanly possible. Basically, there’s not much space in between the gates, and there’s really bad offset, meaning they are on opposite sides of the hill pretty much. I was watching the live feed before I went out for my run and a bunch of the top girls were really struggling. So, I knew what to look out for and I tried my best, but it’s definitely very turny and very demanding.”
This was the final day of competition for Team Ireland, with the highlights being two top thirty finishes. Matt Ryan was twenty-fifth in the Alpine Combined, and Emma Austin was twenty-eighth in today’s Slalom.
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 competition runs from the 9-22 January, with two waves of competition, and thus two waves of athletes coming into the village.
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.
Gold Emma Sahlin (Sweden) 1:29.82
Silver Lena Volken (Switzerland) 1:30.00
Bronze Lara Klein (Germany) 1:30.25
28th Emma Austin (Ireland) 1:42.02
Gold Adam Hofstedt (Sweden) 1:16.10
Silver Luc Roduit (Switzerland) 1:17.42
Bronze Edoardo Saracco (Italian) 1:17.78
DNF Matt Ryan (Ireland)