Saturday 21 July 2018

'The future looks bright for Irish skiing' - McMillan

Tess Arbez: Optimistic. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Tess Arbez: Optimistic. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Ireland's top two alpine skiers followed their impressive Olympic debuts with two more top-50 results yesterday and hope their success will inspire others to follow in their tracks.

Tess Arbez, who had finished 50th in her preferred giant slalom event, surpassed that with 46th place in the slalom from a field of 78 while Pat McMillan, who finished 52nd in downhill, also improved to a 48th-place finish in the super-G.

"I hope it will help to know that we exist and to know that a lot of girls can race here, that we can race in Ireland. I think it's really good to finish, not just to be here to do two gates and go out," said French-born Arbez whose maternal grandfather was Irish.

The Clareman, who only took up ski racing five years ago but trailblazed for Irish speed skiing in Pyeongchang, also said: "The future looks very bright for Irish skiing and I'm more motivated than ever to keep on going.

"I've had a taste of what it's like now and I need to come and do it again and make a result that really stands out."

McMillan was actually disappointed with his 48th place in the super-G in a time of 1:33.54, even though 14 men did not finish the course, including USA veteran Ted Ligety.

The gold, in a time of 1:24.44, did not go to either of the fancied Norwegians who dominated the downhill but Austria's Matthias Mayer.

He won the downhill in Sochi 2014 but is not a prolific winner and had also suffered a spectacular crash in the combined event a few days earlier.

But he edged out Switzerland's Beat Feuz by 0.13 and outdid his own father Helmut Mayer who won silver in the inaugural super-G at Calgary 30 years ago.

Norway's Kjetil Jansrud took bronze but new downhill champion Axsel Lund Svindal had to settle for fifth.

Arbez's slalom event had a particularly dramatic climax.

America's giant slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin was under the weather - she vomited in the start-gate - and finished fourth to dent her multiple medal ambitions.

Instead Sweden's Frida Hansdotter, a perennial bridesmaid at World Championships, stormed to victory with her second run, just holding off Switzerland's Wendy Holdener by five-hundredths of a second, with Austria's Katharina Galbuber taking bronze.

Thomas Westgaard, Ireland's only cross-country skier in South Korea, finished 63rd in his third event - the 15km freestyle - from a massive field of 116 and was delighted to move up 13 places from his initial ranking.

Switzerland's Dario Cologna won a three-in-a-row in that 15km race, at the other end of the scale, Tonga's Pita Taufatofua managed to cross the line in 114th.

Also among yesterday's big stories was teen skating star Nathan Chen, king of the quad jumps, still struggling to land them, although his 17th place in the short programme did qualify him to the final.

In women's snowboard cross, Italy's Michela Moioli, who tore her cruciate in the final four years ago, bounced back to win gold when America's Lindsey Jacobellis, who famously lost gold in 2006 because she celebrated prematurely, was again edged out for a medal by just 0.03 of a second.

Irish Independent

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