Team Ireland’s Eábha McKenna was the sole Irish athlete in action on day four of the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon, competing in the Women’s Giant Slalom. A strong performance from the Wicklow athlete in both runs, netted twenty-sixth place in the slalom event out of seventy-nine starters, with a time of 1:52.03. This was the third event contested by seventeen-year-old McKenna so far this week at the fourth edition of the Games which is run by the International Olympic Committee.
The Giant Slalom is a long-distance slalom event with fast, wide turns. It combines elements of the fast Super-G speed events and the more technical Slalom races, and athletes are timed over two runs of the course, the times are added together, and the fastest time determines the winner. The top thirty finishers in the first run are flipped and are run in reverse order for the second run.
In her first run, McKenna raced well, just missing out on the top thirty, following it up with a more aggressive second effort. The Giant Slalom had thirty-six non-finishers, with conditions cold and icy. Speaking after the race, McKenna, who now is based in Switzerland, said,
“In all, I’m very happy with that. The course started off and you knew from the second and third gate that it was getting unrhythmic and turny, so I had to be prepared from the beginning. It was always on the right footers so it was a bit more turny, and unrhythmical, but it was super fun!
“In the second run the top section went pretty well, for sure better than the first round. I think I was more aggressive and then when I got towards the flat part at the bottom, I lost a bit of speed and I feel like I didn’t do that as well as in the first round. In the first round I wasn’t as aggressive at the top, I was a little bit conservative, and I had a little bit of a mistake coming into the flat where I got quite late after the banana. That’s also the gate where lots of people went out, but I managed to recover fast enough, and my bottom section was faster.
McKenna was determined to race better today following a few mistakes and eventual DNF in yesterday’s Alpine Combined,
“I was obviously disappointed after the DNF yesterday, but I knew that I still have another two races, and I wanted to do well today. I thought it was a super fun-looking slope and I wanted to finish today and do a decent performance so that I can put yesterday completely in the past and forget about it.”
Finlay Wilson will be in action tomorrow, competing in the Giant Slalom event. The France based skier whose mother is from Cookstown is competing in his first multi-sport event.
Results 23 January
Eábha McKenna – Women’s Giant Slalom, 26th place with 1:52.03.
Schedule 24 January (Irish time)
01:00 (10:00 local time) Finlay Wilson – Giant Slalom Run 1
03:45 (12:45 local time) Finlay Wilson – Giant Slalom Run 2