TEAM IRELAND IN BEIJING 2022 - THOMAS MALONEY WESTGAARD 29TH IN 50KM MASS START FREE

DAY FIFTEEN: TEAM IRELAND IN BEIJING 2022 

29th FOR THOMAS MALONEY WESTGAARD IN THE CROSS-COUNTRY 50KM

Closing out the Team Ireland action in the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, Thomas Maloney Westgaard finished 29th in the Cross-Country Skiing 50km Mass Start Free, an event that was reduced on the day to 28km due to strong winds and extremely low temperatures. Russia and Norway dominated the front end of the race, with Alexander Bolshunov (ROC) adding to his medal haul taking gold ahead of his teammate Ivan Yakimushkin (ROC). Norway’s Simen Hegsted Krueger won the bronze medal.

Prior to this race, Maloney Westgaard had targeted a top 30 finish in the 50km and was not fazed by the rescheduled competition that was also reduced by almost half the distance to 28km. The 26-year-old normally prefers the classic ski style of racing and battled the tough course and challenging conditions to achieve his Games goal.

Pleased with his performance, the Irishman said,

“It was a race to remember for sure, in many ways. I'm really happy with my performance, first ever top 30 in a skate race. That was the goal before the race, to come top 30 and I managed it. So I'm really, really happy.

“It was a struggle out there. At some stages I was happy that it wasn't the 50 K, but yeah, it was a cold experience and tough conditions, but we are quite used to it. It's quite windy in Galway as well, so we are prepared for this.”

In the early stages of the race a lead group was established, with Maloney Westgaard finding him self in a small chasing group sitting in around 31st position. As the race unfolded this group reduced to around eight athletes, mainly from Norway and Russia. The Irish skier raced his own race, determined to achieve his top thirty target, and in the closing kilometres found himself in a small group of five competing for 28th spot.

“I knew that in the group we were racing for everything from 28th to 34th place. And it’s a big difference to be in those positions for a cross-country skier. When you are in the top 30, everyone considers you as a good skier. So when we were in that group I tried to be a bit more tactical, to stay more in the middle of the group and to have a good position, not going too early. I knew that in the last 2km there is a really long hill of about 600m. I knew that you can do an awful lot in that last kilometre if you have your energy, so the main thing for me was to spare that energy and then just go for the last 500m. And I really did that, I think I made the right decision there, and I had absolutely nothing left when I crossed the finish line.”

This brings to an end the Irish participation in the Winter Olympic Games for 2022, with several outstanding performances throughout the two weeks for the six Irish athletes. Maloney Westgaard’s 14th place in the 15km Classic Race last week, as well as Jack Gower’s 12th place in the Alpine Combined were two stand out performances, bettering Ireland’s previous skiing results in the thirty years of Winter Olympic participation.

The flagbearer for the closing ceremony will be announced shortly, with the ceremony occurring tomorrow, the 20February.

RESULTS:

Cross-Country Men’s 50km Mass Start Free:

Gold – Alexander Bolshunuv (ROC) 1:11.32.7

Silver – Ivan Yakimushkin (ROC) 1:11.38.2 (+5.5)

Bronze – Simen Hegstad Krueger (NOR) 1:11.39.7 (+7.0)

29thThomas Maloney Westgaard (IRL) 1:15.59.0 (+4.26.3)

SCHEDULE 20 FEBRUARY

12:00 Closing Ceremony

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

DOWNLOAD THE TEAM IRELAND MEDIA GUIDE HERE

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