Winter Youth Olympics 2012: Freestyle skiers lead the way
Team GB flagbearer Katie Summerhayes looks well placed for a shot at the podium in Sunday's medal event
Freestyle skiers Katie Summerhayes and Tyler Harding led the charge on an impressive opening day for Great Britain at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck.
Both Summerhayes, who carried the flag for the British team at Friday’s opening ceremony, and Harding secured their respective places in Sunday’s Half-Pipe finals in Kuhtai with improved second runs.
Summerhayes finished with a best score of 55.50 from her two runs to finish fifth overall ahead of Sunday’s medal event showdown.
And the 16-year-old will be hoping she has more in her armoury when the medal event gets underway tomorrow afternoon.
“I’m really pleased with how my two runs went, it’s a great feeling to be out representing Great Britain and to be in the final is a dream come true,” she said.
“The competition here is great, all the skiers are so good but the atmosphere is so nice, we’re all friends and we all ski better as a result.
“All my family and some of my old coaches were up in the crowd supporting me and to see so many GB flags waving was a great feeling.
“Now I’ll get a good night’s sleep and prepare for tomorrow where hopefully I can get on the podium with a bit of improvement, there are things for me to work on.”
Harding also impressed as he secured eighth place in his qualification round to ensure his progression, a result that he admitted looked unlikely after his practice runs earlier in the week.
“I’m really pleased, I got both my runs down so I can’t complain at all, it had been a sketchy few days in practice but I really pulled it out,” said Harding, who hails from Halifax.
“I pumped a lot into the second run, tried to make the whole run bigger with better grabs and I’m so happy that it all came off.
“It’s all there for the taking and now I’m there who knows what could happen. I want to try and put an extra hit in for the final, get higher up the course and really go all out.
“It’s here and now for me so I’ve got to give it my all but then I’ve got the rest of the competition to watch all the other guys, I’m really interested in how they go and I’ll be cheering them on.”
Just down the road from Kuhtai in Patscherkofel the alpine skiing competition got underway with the Super G event.
Paul Henderson and Rachelle Rogers were Team GB’s participants and both produced solid displays to kick off their Winter Games.
Rogers in particular impressed as she came home 24th in a time of 1:11.05minutes, a result made all the more impressive when you consider that Super G is the 16-year-old’s weakest discipline.
“I’m really happy that I’ve made it down my first run in the Youth Olympics,” she said.
“I was quite nervous before the race but once I was on the start line I was ready to go. I nearly fell over and after that my concentration went a bit all over the place, but I recovered and got down so I’m pretty pleased.
“I wanted to finish in the top-30 so 24th is really great. Super G is my weakest discipline so this was really about building my confidence and getting used to the piste for my stronger events.
“I would say my strongest event is the slalom which is my last event here, so I’m hoping to save my best for last.”
Henderson came home 17th in the men’s race, recording a time of 1 min 06.97 seconds, 2.52 seconds behind the winner Adam Lamhamedi from Morocco and both he and Rogers will take to the slopes again tomorrow in the Super Combined.
Elsewhere snowboarder Lewis Courtier-Jones held his nerve to seal his berth in the Half-Pipe semi-finals, the 16-year-old put together an impressive final run in his qualification heat to finish seventh with a best score of 60.00.
Great Britain’s curlers however made an inauspicious start to their Olympic campaign as they fell to Sweden 6-4 in a hard-fought opening encounter.
The British team of Duncan Menzies, Thomas Muirhead, Angharad Ward and Rachel Hannen went 4-0 inside the first end but fought back in some style before falling agonisingly short on the last throw of the game.