HISTORY-MAKER Elsa Desmond has had a great start to her season, already racking up several PBs and her best ever World Cup result on the international sliding circuit.
Ireland’s first ever luge competitor in the Olympics last year takes four months off her job as a medical doctor to compete and has stepped things up another gear since Beijing 2022.
She started the season with PBs in Innsbruck, competed in Park City before Christmas and was 25th in Sigulda (Latvia) over the New Year, her best ever result in a World Cup.
She missed the Whistler leg pre-Christmas with injury and struggled in Oberhof (Germany) in late January, but has come to accept the highs and lows in every season, especially in a sport that has such a non-stop schedule and variable track conditions.
She credits her progress to the support offered by a new partnership with the Romanian team, the confidence she gleaned from her Olympic debut and her new sled which she has christened ‘Pegasus’.
It's a lot different from her old faithful ‘Hank’, or ‘Hank the Tank’ as she called it for its legendary durability.
“I could ram that thing into as many walls as I liked and he wouldn’t break whereas now I’m on a much more delicate sled,” she quips.
“Pegasus is far more flexible and much faster when I get it right but it’s also much more challenging to drive which is why I had to concentrate so much on pre-season this year.
I even have to concentrate a lot more on my breathing. On my old sled I didn’t have to worry about where or when I breathed because it was so sturdy and stable whereas now things like that matter much more.
Pegasus cost €6000 and, for comparison, she estimates that the German’s, luge’s superstars, drive sleds “which probably cost €1million and are the equivalent of Formula One cars.”
But every little tweak helps and money from the OFI’s ‘Make a Difference’ fund helped her vital equipment upgrade.
“Half of that funding went on my sled and the remainder went on kit and equipment for the junior and development athletes in our federation. To give them the opportunity to progress and create that legacy for our sport within Ireland, that really is a huge aim at the moment.”
Partnering with the Romanians this season gives her access to two coaches who can monitor her training runs which are never more than six at each new track before she has to race.
The Germans still have way more coaches monitoring every corner of their athletes’ practices but it’s still another gain and Desmond is also racing with a new mindset.
“Putting down three really solid runs at an Olympics put me into a different head-space of ‘if you can put it down there you can put it down anywhere!’ It was definitely a boost to my confidence.
“Because the Olympics was the dream that I’d been working towards for so long it was like a pressure off too. Obviously I want to get better all the time but achieving that thing that I’d initially set out to do has really helped.”
Olympic athletes who represented Ireland across the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games were honoured this evening at a special event held by the Olympic Federation of Ireland at the Mansion House, Dublin.
The event, which was held in the aftermath of a hugely successful year for Team Ireland, marked the official wrap of the 2020 Summer and 2022 Winter Games cycles, and saw Olympic athletes awarded across different categories for their contribution to the team. This evening’s event also acknowledged and recognised the contribution of the Team Ireland athletes at both Games overall, as they represented their country with pride and in doing so, inspired a nation.
The first award of the night was the Allianz Rising Star award, awarded to young swimmer, Mona McSharry, who made a big splash at the Summer Games in Tokyo last year. McSharry made history in Tokyo, becoming the first Irish swimmer in 25 years to compete in an Olympic final, touching home in a time of 1:06.94 in the final to finish 8th overall. The award was decided by nominations from sports from across the Olympic Federation members, which were then passed on to an independent committee vote for the final decision.
The second award of the night was the Deloitte Special Recognition Award for the Summer Games, with Dr James O’Donovan – Team Ireland Chief Medical Officer at the Tokyo Games – picking up the award, following an extremely difficult and challenging Games, that saw him lead Team Ireland athletes and staff through the Games safely and without incident.
The Deloitte Special Recognition award for the Winter Games meanwhile was awarded to Cross Country Skier, Thomas Maloney Westgaard for his performances in Beijing in February, which saw him leave a major impact on the sport, finishing sixth nation in a hugely competitive event. This was off the back of a challenging start to the Games for Westgaard, which saw him in isolation until the day before competition due to Covid-19.
The Permanent TSB Spirit of the Winter Olympics Award was a joint award given to Seamus O’Connor (Snowboarding) and Brendan Newby (Freestyle Skiing) as they inspired the youth of Ireland to Dare to Believe in themselves.
While the Permanent TSB Spirit of the Summer Olympics Writers’ award - which was decided upon by the Irish media who attended the Summer Olympic Games – was awarded to Irish boxer Emmet Brennan for his embodiment of the spirit of the Olympics throughout the Games, inspiring the nation as he went.
The final award of the night was the Indeed Award for Excellence, and saw all Olympic medallists from the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games recognised. This included gold medal winners Kellie Harrington (Boxing) and the rowing pair of Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy, as well as bronze medal winners, Aidan Walsh (Boxing) and the rowing four of Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty.
Speaking about the awards, CEO of the Olympic Federation of Ireland, Peter Sherrard stated:
“Through the Tokyo and Beijing Games, the Team Ireland athletes have been dedicated, committed and inspiring. We are very proud of their achievements. It was a pleasure to have Minister Catherine Martin in attendance, as well as Sport Ireland and the newly appointed Athletes’ Commission as we looked back on the Games just gone and prepare for Paris, and Milan Cortina. We wish to extend our congratulations to our award recipients this evening and thank our sponsors and partners for helping to make the evening so special for our athletes.”
Speaking at the end of what has been a successful Games for Team Ireland at the Beijing Winter Olympics, Chef de Mission Nancy Chillingworth describes an event that saw top performances from Irish athletes, all the more special considering the challenges faced by the athletes in the lead up to the event.
This has been a fantastic experience for Team Ireland. We have had a small team, six athletes, spread across two villages. But the performance levels that the athletes have produced has been phenomenal. They’ve come into this off the back of challenging qualification, with covid restrictions and qualification events have changed, and the performances they have achieved as a group has been really inspiring. Pretty much everyone has either equalled or in many cases bettered their pre-games expectations. And then to have a 12th in the Alpine Combined and a fourteenth in the cross country is really amazing for a country of our size.
What has been notable throughout the Winter Olympics in Beijing has been the team spirit and supportive culture that has been shared by athletes and staff. Chillingworth highlights this as been a culture that has also bolstered performances,
I think it’s been really special to be part of it. The team got together beforehand in a pre-games camp, and that really helped the athletes to build and foster this culture and spirit of team Ireland. We have managed to get the group together on zoom across the villages, and even the way that the athletes themselves has supported each other at competition when they’ve come back. Whether they have actually go physically to the competition or they’ve watched it on the screen in the village, and have communicated through our whatsapp groups, or in person, has been something really special. To witness it, and to be a part of it. We are a small team and spread across the world for most of the cycle, so to see them come together and support each other has really been fantastic.
With the athletes spread across the world throughout the Olympic cycle, competing in many cases as sole Irish representatives in their respective sports, the Olympic Games offers them a unique opportunity to come together under one Team Ireland umbrella. Speaking about this bond and sense of togetherness within the team Chillingworth said,
The athletes have really lifted each other along with their performances. I know that Thomas said at the end of his 15km that being able to share the experience of the success with his teammates at the finish line just really made the moment that bit extra. It’s hard to put into words but you can get the sense of it around the village. How the team responds to each other. I think the fact that they operate largely independently throughout the cycle means that when you have the opportunity to come together in this multi-sport arena, it just adds that extra piece of what this really means to represent team Ireland and you can see how important it is to each and every athlete. You can see that as soon as they put on the green and they feel part of the team coming into the opening ceremony, that it’s really a part of their identity and how they identify properly with the country and culture.
Team Ireland competed in the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing from the 4-20 February, achieving some of the best Irish results at a Winter Games in the thirty years of participation:
Thomas Maloney Westgaard has been named as the flagbearer for Team Ireland in the Closing Ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. The ceremony takes place in the Bird’s Nest stadium at 12 noon Irish time. Maloney Westgaard was both the first Irish athlete to compete in the Beijing Games, as well as the last, and enjoyed some incredible performances including a 14th place in the Cross-Country 15km Classic, finishing up as the sixth place nation.
Speaking about his selection as flagbearer, Maloney Westgaard said,
Team Ireland Chef de Mission for Beijing Nancy Chillingworth added,
“It is a very fitting appointment, Thomas has been so integral to this time. The fact it’s his second games, the improvement he has made as an athlete over the course of this cycle to be really standing up with the big nations, for him to carry the flag and properly celebrate his achievements is very justly deserved.”
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.
Double Olympian Brendan Newby has finished 20th in the qualifying rounds of the Freestyle Skiing Halfpipe today, with a score of 47.0 which was achieved in the second run. The top twelve finishers in qualification move to the finals on the 19th February, where they contest the medals. This finish position is two positions better than his 22nd place in Pyeongchang four years ago.
In the Halfpipe qualifiers athletes have two runs, two opportunities to get a score, with their best result counting towards the overall standings. In the first run Newby, who was eighth starter, began strongly, getting height in his early tricks before falling, which resulted in a low score, and putting pressure on the Cork born skier to land a clean run in the second chance.
Newby, speaking after his second run, described his qualifying rounds,
“In the first run I did a left cork 900 and I went really big on it, and I was hyped on that one. I then came into a red cork 540 and then the next trick was a left flare. And those top three were going really, really good. Then I was just going real fast, I had a lot of heat coming into the trick that I fell on, the cork 720, and I just got a little too psyched, a little too amped and I popped."
"I landed really low on the wall, you land backwards, so I landed really low on the wall going backwards, so I got crunch rapped going into the transition. That one definitely got me rattled coming into the second run.”
After the early disappointment in the first run, Newby refocused with the pressure on to finish a run cleanly,
“I wish I could have put down that first run clean because I was going much bigger than I normally do, but hey, it’s a competition and stuff happens that you would rather didn’t happen, but I did my best today and that’s what really matters. Coming into the second run, the plans didn’t change, I was going to do the same run either way. But I just had to get over the nerves of crashing in the first run. It is way better to crash second run than the first one.”
Coach Ian Burson played an important role in helping Newby refocus, who described the process of preparing for the second run,
In his off-season Newby coaches skiing to children in Utah, and has been motivated by not only their support but the support of the 21,000 schoolchildren around Ireland who have been completing the Road to Beijing, the Olympic Schools Challenge run as part of the OFI Dare to Believe programme,
“I do it for the kids. I want more people to get into what I’m doing because I love what I’m doing. It brings so much to my life. If I can be a role model to bring this to someone else’s life then I’m going to keep doing it, it’s just awesome. I love all the support I’m getting, love all the videos from the kids, the cheers. I watched it before the competition, I am really thankful for all the kids out there. I do it for you.”
There now is just one Team Ireland athlete left to compete, Thomas Maloney Westgaard races the Cross-Country 50km on the 19 February, and will start with a renewed motivation following his stand out performance last week in the Cross-Country 15km Classic where he finished in an outstanding 14th position overall.
Alpine Skier Jack Gower today finished 25th in his final race of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, the Giant Slalom. On the back of his fantastic twelfth place in the Alpine Combined earlier on in the week, Gower finished the two runs in an overall time of 2:20.56, just 11.21 seconds behind gold medal winner Marco Odermatt from Switzerland, the current world cup overall leader.
The Giant Slalom is a technical event involving athletes competing over two runs of a course, with the combined times determining the overall standing. In the first run Gower was disappointed to lose a little time in the early section of the race, coming down in thirty-first place, at the wrong side of the top thirty, which is flipped in running order for the second run.
Frustrated with his earlier performance, Gower said,
“I missed the top thirty by 7 hundreds of a second, which would have been a game changer for me and given me a really good opportunity to do something very cool.”
In the second race the speed specialist enjoyed the snowy conditions that had led to a delay of an hour in racing,
“I think it’s been fun – I quite like racing in the snow. It’s a winter sport, so that’s definitely no problem for me. I think it’s cool and makes it exciting when the vis is bad, and it’s snowing, it adds something to the race.
“It’s very challenging here, the run is a bit shorter than normal, and they’ve set it very turny, and it’s steep and very icy, they’ve put a lot of water in there. Up top it’s a real battle and a real challenge, and that’s how it should be.”
As the Games approach the final week, only two athletes are left to compete. Thomas Maloney Westgaard races the Cross-Country 50km on the 19th February, and Brendan Newby, the only Team Ireland athlete who has not yet competed, will be in action in the Freeski Halfpipe qualifiers on the 17th February, with the finals two days later.
Men’s Giant Slalom
Gold – Marco Odermatt (SUI) 2:09.35
Silver – Zan Kranjec (SLO) 2:09.54 (+0.19)
Bronze – Mathieu Faivre (FRA)2:10.69 (+1.34)
25th – Jack Gower (IRL) 2:20.56 (+11.21)
Alpine Giant Slalom – Jack Gower Runs
Run #1 – Jack Gower (IRL) 31st 1:08.30
Run #2 – Jack Gower (IRL) 25th 1:12.26
SCHEDULE 14/15/16 FEBRUARY
SCHEDULE 17 FEBRUARY
04:30 Brendan Newby, Freestyle Skiing, Halfpipe Qualifying #1
05:21 Brendan Newby, Freestyle Skiing, Halfpipe Qualifying #2
For full schedules, results and information on Team Ireland head to www.olympics.ie, and
It was another good day for Team Ireland at the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, with a fantastic fourteenth place for Thomas Maloney Westgaard in the Cross-Country Skiing 15km Classic. Competing in his second Olympics, the 26 year-old had been targeting a top fifteen result in this event on the back of solid performances over the past few years, and finished in a time of 40:01.5, just 2:06.7 behind the winner Iivo Niskanen from Finland. Also in action was Tess Arbez, who finished 42nd in the Super-G, in a time of 1:25.18.
The 15km Classic is a time-trial competition, with athletes starting in 30 second intervals and competing over two laps of a 7.5km circuit. Ninety-nine athletes contested today’s men’s race, with Maloney Westgaard wearing bib 24. Crossing the line, the Irish man was the fastest out of the early finishers and had a long wait to see where his overall standing would be.
Racing his best race in over a year, a delighted Maloney Westgaard said,
“The main goal was to do two quite even laps. I knew it was going to be one of the toughest races, with nearly 600m of total climbing. So I tried to pace it really well and I started quite safe and I wasn’t too stressed, even though I heard I was a bit too far off. I tried to go good technically and just improve over the race and, yeah, I just felt better and better and the feedback was better and better.
In the Super-G Arbez was really pleased with her closing race of her second Olympic Games, saying,
“It was a really fun race, I really enjoyed it. It was really great to feel the speed of the long skis. I wish I could do one more now but it’s over. I think I could be a little be faster, straighter on the gates, keeping a little bit more of the speed position. But I’m happy to finish because it is the first time and Irish girl to ride the speed event, it was easier than I thought.”
Tomorrow is a rest day for Team Ireland, with next competition taking place on the 13th February with Jack Gower in the Giant Slalom.
Men’s Cross-Country 15km Classic
Gold – Iivo Niskanen (FIN) 37:54.8
Silver – Alexander Bolshunov (ROC) 38:18.0 (+23.2)
Bronze – Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo (NOR) 38:32.3 (+37.5)
14th – Thomas Maloney Westgaard (IRL) 40:01.5 (+2.06.7)
Gold – Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI) 1:13.51
Silver – Mirjam Puchner (AUT) 1:13.73 (+0.22)
Bronze – Michelle Gisin (SUI) 1:13.81 (+0.30)
42nd – Tess Arbez (IRL) 1:25.18 (+11.67)
SCHEDULE 12 FEBRUARY
SCHEDULE 13 FEBRUARY
02:15 Jack Gower, Alpine Skiing, Giant Slalom Run 1
05:45 Jack Gower, Alpine Skiing, Giant Slalom Run 2
For full schedules, results and information on Team Ireland head to www.olympics.ie, and
The updated schedule for Team Ireland in Beijing 2022 can be found HERE.
Jack Gower, the sole Team Ireland athlete in action today, finished 12th overall in the Alpine Combined event at the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing today. Competing in his first Olympics, Gower started the day strong with fourteenth in the Downhill, before going two places better in the Slalom, and an overall time of 2:37.74 and Ireland’s best Alpine Skiing result ever; a position only bettered by Lord Clifton Wrottesley in the Skeleton in 2002.
The Alpine Combined is an event where athletes compete in the Downhill speed event with the more technical Slalom, the overall winner is the fastest racer once the race times are combined. Normally a Downhill specialist, Gower put down a clean run in the challenging and technical Slalom course, finishing twelfth fastest in that run with a time of 52:58, placing him firmly inside his top fifteen goal when it was combined with the earlier Downhill time of 1:45.16, resulting in an overall twelfth fastest time of 2:37.74.
Pleased with his finish position, Gower said,
“Twelfth at the Olympics, I mean that’s crazy – there’s 30,000 competitors in Alpine Skiing, to get twelfth is… what can I say, it’s great.
“As an athlete you always want a little more. The downhill I had some really good sections and some slower sections, and the slalom was a real battle, so I would love to have done better. But at the same time 12th in the Olympics in such a competitive sport is huge, and I feel so grateful that I have had such huge support.”
Speaking after the Downhill earlier in the day, Gower was happy with his run, saying,
“This track is brilliant, with all the slipping it’s getting a bit bumpier, a little bit icier and a little faster which suits me. I had too many mistakes in that run to really be as competitive as I want. There was some decent skiing and something I can take away from that. Downhill can feel very calm when it’s all going very well, but feels very fast and scary when things are not clicking. I think it was the same for that run and where I was skiing well it felt very in control and good.”
Tomorrow Tess Arbez will compete in her last race of Beijing 2022, with the Super-G. This is the first time that she will compete in this speed race in the Olympic Games. In Zhangjiakou, Thomas Maloney Westgaard competes in his preferred event, the Cross-Country 15km Classic.
Men’s Alpine Combined Overall
Gold – Johannes Strolz (AUT) 2:31.43
Silver – Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR) 2:32.02 (+0.59)
Bronze – James Crawford (CAN) 2:32.11 (+0.68)
12th – Jack Gower (IRL) 2:37.74 (+6.31)
Alpine Combined Downhill
Jack Gower (14) 1:45.16
Alpine Combined Slalom
Jack Gower (12) 52.58
SCHEDULE 11 FEBRUARY
03:00 Tess Arbez, Alpine Skiing, Super-G
07:00 Thomas Maloney Westgaard, Cross-Country Skiing, 15km Classic
For full schedules, results and information on Team Ireland head to www.olympics.ie, and
Today Snowboarder Seamus O’Connor became the first Team Ireland athlete to ever compete in three Winter Olympic Games, when he finished fifteenth in the Halfpipe with a score of 57.0. Tess Arbez was also in action, finishing 48th overall in the Women’s Slalom after two clean runs, in an icy event that saw thirty athletes marked as DNF.
Before the Slalom Arbez was determined to get two clean runs, after her disappointment in the Giant Slalom, where she was one of the non-finishers. The icy conditions on the course were similar to the last day, and many of the favourites in the Slalom, such as top ranked Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) were caught out and were listed as DNF.
In her first run she finished 55thwith 1:07.83, and moved up to 48th overall with a time of 1:06.78 in her second run, giving a total of 2:14.61. Petra Vlhova (SVK) won the gold medal ahead of Austria’s Katharina Leinsberger in silver; Wendy Holdener (SUI) rounded off the podium with a bronze medal.
In the Snowboard Halfpipe O’Connor scored his top result, 57.0 in the opening run with a ride that included a range of tricks which started with the backside air and ended with a front side double-cork 1080. The first run saw several of the top seeded athletes coming down and scoring low, and O’Connor went into the second run ranked eleventh.
The Snowboard Halfpipe is a competition performed in a half tube of snow, where athletes are judged based on the tricks they perform in their run. They have two opportunities or run in the qualification rounds, with their best run counting. The top twelve athletes advance to the finals where they can contest the medals. There are six judges who make assessments based on Amplitude, Difficulty, Variety, Execution and Progression, the top and bottom scores are taken away, with the average score being the result for the athlete.
While disappointed to not better his first run, O’Connor relished the experience and opportunity to compete in this third Games,
“Snowboarding is, to me, the funnest thing in the world. And every day that I get to ride a snowboard, I’m thankful. My first run was a little bit sketchy. I had it down better yesterday, so I mena, I put it down and I was stoked for that. But I was really looking towards my second run to come back and clean it up and just put that Seamus signature on it.
“But something went wrong on the takeoff of my first trick on the second run. And I had to pull out of the double, which then ended the run for me. But it’s snowboarding and it’s never perfect. And that’s alright. I’m super thankful to be down there in one piece and to be in my third Games. Overall, it’s been an incredible experience.”
While the athletes are competing in Beijing, over 20,000 schoolchildren in Ireland are taking part in the Road to Beijing Olympic Schools Challenge, and have been sending messages, chants and posters to support them while they are at the Games.
Speaking about the boost that the messages have given the team, O’Connor addressed the children saying,
“I can't thank all the school kids back in Ireland enough. It's the best part of these games, hands down. You guys have filled me with motivation and passion and so much light and energy. I, like I said, can't thank you enough. I hope that I can get back to Ireland and come see you guys in person. You guys are truly stars. Thank you so much for your support.”
Tomorrow Jack Gower will be the only Team Ireland athlete to compete, when he races the Alpine Combined, an event that includes Downhill and Slalom, with the overall standing being a combination of the two individual times.
Team Ireland’s Elsa Desmond finished her Olympic campaign with another clean run in the Women’s Singles Luge at the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. The first time Olympian finished her third run with a time of 1:02.254, which was her second fastest on the track. Added to run one and two, she finished her event in 33rd position with an overall time of 3:03.07.719.
In tonight’s runs in the Women’s Singles, the top twenty athletes from run three moved to the final round, meaning that Desmond’s third run was her final one. The competition was won by Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger, ahead of her teammate Anna Berrieter. Russia’s Tatyana Ivanova won the bronze medal.
Speaking about her run, Desmond said,
“This is the second fastest time that I ever got here, there was definite issues between curve two and three. I’ve only ever got it right twice prior to this. It’s a section I haven’t got my head around and you get that sometimes. But unlike yesterday’s second run I recovered it much quicker, and I managed to relax into the sled I didn’t manage to do in the second run yesterday.
“I had a couple of taps with my feet down, but it was nothing major. It was consistent with training but a little bit quicker. I’ll take it, I finished three runs, I couldn’t be happier.”
The 24-year-old is the first Irish athlete to finish competition, and enjoyed the moment of relief to have ended on a high,
“I’ve dreamed of this as long as I can remember and I’m here and I did it and I didn’t do anything ridiculous and end up on my face. Why would I not be absolutely ecstatic. I know my parents are at home watching and wish they were here and will be so so proud. I can’t wait to talk to them, I know my mum will be in tears.”
Tomorrow Team Ireland will have two athletes in action, with Tess Arbez competing in the Slalom, and Seamus O’Connor set to become a three-time Olympian, competing in the Snowboard Halfpipe qualifying rounds.
Arbez was determined to have a better day tomorrow than on Monday in the Giant Slalom, where she was listed as one of nineteen non-finishers. Describing the icy course, Arbez is clearly looking to put the stress of the first event behind her,
“I was a bit sad because I crashed during the first run, the snow was really difficult, it was not like the day before when we just did free ski on the slope. The snow was really good on that day, and yesterday it was really icy snow, and it surprised a lot of girls who crashed and came out. That is not what we usually see on a GS race.
“I think I was really stressed for the Giant Slalom because it was the first race of the Olympics so now this is gone. I had my bad race and now I can just focus and forget about the stresses. Now I know what I have to do to be better.”
Gold Natalie Geisenberger (GER) 3:53.454 – after 4 runs
Silver Anna Berrieter (GER) 3:53.947 – after 4 runs
Bronze Tatyana Ivanova (ROC) 3:54.507 – after 4 runs
33 – Elsa Desmond (IRL) 3:07.719 – after 3 runs
SCHEDULE 9 FEBRUARY AM
02:15 Tess Arbez, Alpine Skiing, Slalom Run #1
04:30 Seamus O’Connor, Snowboard Halfpipe Qualifying #1
05:21 Seamus O’Connor, Snowboard Halfpipe Qualifying #2
05:45 Tess Arbez, Alpine Skiing, Slalom Run #2
For full schedules, results and information on Team Ireland head to www.olympics.ie, and
There was disappointment for Jack Gower in the Men’s Super-G today in Yangqing, when he joined a long list of DNFs for the Men’s Super-G at the Winter Olympic Games. The 27-year-old was the only Team Ireland athlete in action in the morning session of day four of the Games and had been targeting a top twenty finish position in this event.
Speaking after the event, a dejected Gower spoke about the disappointment of not finishing due to going through a panel halfway down the course,
“It’s hard to put in words today. This is my event and the event I was performing well in and had high hopes for. I’m pretty disappointed right now, pretty deflated, and that’s the way it goes. Super-G is challenging and technical. That’s how it goes, especially at the Olympics you have to push and push. But I just didn’t get it right and obviously went through that panel, on the bright side I’m all good and so I can race again.”
The Super-G is a speed event, held on the same course as yesterday’s Downhill event. The event combines the speed of the Downhill but includes technical turns similar to the Giant Slalom. The spacing between the gates allows the speed to build, but with a total vertical drop of 645m over a distance of 2267m contributing to the speed also.
The list of thirteen DNFs on the challenging course included yesterday’s Olympic Champion in Downhill Beat Feuz (Switzerland). Gower described the fine balance between taking risks, pushing to the limit, and staying upright in the speed events,
“In the speed events there’s always some back and forth on the mental side. You’ve got to prepare yourself to take every risk you can and put all the other thoughts of injury and everything outside your head. It’s always a mental challenge in these two events, the speed events, when injuries are so prevalent. It’s a constant battle on that side, but that goes with the ground.”
Gower will now switch his focus to the next event on his schedule, the Alpine Combined which takes place on the 10 February. This is an event where the athlete competes in both Downhill and Slalom, with the final ranking being the combined total from both runs.
Later this evening Irish Luger Elsa Desmond is back on the track, competing in Run 3 of the Women’s Singles.
RESULTS: ALPINE SKIING
Gold Matthias Mayer (AUT) 1:19.94
Silver Ryan Cochran-Siegle (USA) 1:19.98 (+0.04)
Bronze Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR) 1:20.36 (+0.42)
DNF – Jack Gower (IRL)
SCHEDULE 8 FEBRUARY PM
11:50 Irish Time (19:50 Beijing) Run 3 – Elsa Desmond #34
For full schedules, results and information on Team Ireland head to www.olympics.ie, and
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