Sunday 19 August 2018

When you put your mind to it you can do anything - McMillan

Patrick McMillan. Photo: Getty Images
Patrick McMillan. Photo: Getty Images

Cliona Foley in Pyeongchang

Irish alpine skiers Tess Arbez and Pat McMillan will be back in action on the slopes of Pyeongchang today after making impressive Olympic debuts yesterday.

Arbez (20), who finished 50th in the giant slalom, summed up their reactions by exclaiming: "I'd like to live every day like this. It surpassed my expectations but it went too fast. I would like to live it all again. It was just amazing."

McMillan (26), the former Leinster underage rugby player who only took up skiing seriously five years ago, was similarly buzzing after finishing 52nd (in 1:49.98) and becoming only the second Irishman to race in the Olympic downhill, known as the Formula One of alpine skiing.

"When you put your mind to it you can do anything, you should never give up on anything," McMillan said.

He confessed to having no recollection of a mid-air wobble after one jump, saying "these things happen so quickly, unless you're in the (safety) net you keep going. I love jumping! It's rare that we get four big ones in a race. It's mad craic, I just love it so much."

His time was almost 10 seconds off Aksel Lund Svindal, who finally bagged Norway's first downhill gold and, at 35, became the oldest man to win an alpine title.

His team-mate Kjetil Jansrud, as expected, was just 0.12s behind him and Switzerland's Beat Feuz took bronze.

"Unfortunately, the warm conditions mean that after the top 20 the snow got so warm that the bottom of the course slowed down but otherwise it was perfect," said McMillan after almost a week of weather delays.

Arbez, who only turned 20 last December, also kept a remarkably cool head when many around her were losing theirs.

Eleven failed to finish the first run ahead of her but she went down clean in 1:22.12 to earn her second run and then went four seconds faster (1:18.12) which jumped her six places to finish 50th out of a field of 79.

"In the second run I was more relaxed. I felt much better and it was a better run," said Arbez who confessed that her legs were shaking in the gate before she started.

"The only time I had raced these women before was in World Championships but only the top 60 get a second run at World Champs and I never had the chance before to do that," she revealed.

"But I felt that top 50 should be my goal and I did that so I am very happy."

Only five Irish women have taken part in previous Winter Olympics, including Tamsen McGarry who was 32nd in the 2006 giant slalom.

Like McMillan, Arbez also races again today, when both of them will compete in the super-G and slalom respectively, but yesterday's events were their stronger ones.

America's Mikaela Shiffrin added the giant slalom title to the gold she won for slalom in Sochi and remains on course for several more titles in South Korea.

  • Winter Olympics, live, BBC and Eurosport; highlights, RTÉ2, 9.35

Irish Independent

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