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Dave Ryding achieved the best British result in alpine skiing for 30 years at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre today.
Ryding finished ninth in the slalom to earn the highest placing at a Winter Olympics since Martin Bell’s eighth at the Calgary Games of 1988, proving the Lancastrian can mix it with the world’s best athletes.
Ryding recorded a time of 49.09 on a first run which betrayed some nerves and left him in 13th place. An improved second run, in increasingly tricky conditions, clocked 51.07 and his cumulative time of 1.40.16 sealed his top-10 standing.
This is Ryding’s third Olympics and he firmly believes there is room for improvement looking ahead to Beijing 2022. As his age has gone up, so his Winter Olympic finishing places have come down. In Vancouver he was 27th, in Sochi 17th, and he has followed that with a ninth here.
PyeongChang has proven that age is no barrier to success in alpine skiing – far from it. The men’s Olympic downhill title was taken by 35-year-old Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal, and gold in today’s slalom was won by Swede Andre Myhrer, also 35-years-old - the age Ryding will be in Beijing.
He said after the race: “A top ten at the Olympics after the dust settles I'll be pretty proud of and in four years' time I will have something to really build on.”
“Hopefully I can podium again in between the Olympics to show people I can do it. I believe I've got it in me, I'm just not leaving it all out there all the time.”
Team GB’s Laurie Taylor also competed well on his Olympic debut. The 22-year-old recorded runs of 51.08 and 52.33 and an accumulative time of 1.43.41 to finish 26th.
Swiss call time on GB men’s curling competition
The men’s curlers of Team GB lost their make-or-break match against the Swiss to exit the tournament. In the eerily quiet surroundings of the Gangneung Curling Centre, GB went down 9-5 to a strong Swiss side. Leading 5-4 after the eighth end, the Swiss scored a rare five-point stone in the ninth end to win the match, and put pay to Team Smith’s hopes.
The team finish the Olympics a creditable fifth and the young side, all of whom were Olympic debutants, will have benefited hugely from their fortnight in Korea.
Skip Kyle Smith, a former junior world-champion, was philosophical afterwards, saying: “We gave it our best shot but that’s the dream over. I’ll take a lot from the experience coming to the Olympic Games with my best friends and my wee brother, that’s something you dream of as a boy.
“It’s a sore one, we gave ourselves the chance of making the semi-finals but we couldn’t make it happen.”
The men now pass the mantle to the women, who play their semi-final match against Sweden tomorrow at 11:05 UK time, where a victory would guarantee a medal.
In the men’s four-man bobsleigh, Lamin Deen’s GB team recorded the ninth-fastest run in the second heat of today’s training session, with Brad Hall and his crew six places back in 16th. Their competition for real begins on Saturday morning. Emily Sarsfield, meanwhile, finished 22nd in the ranking round of the women’s ski cross.
US celebrate ice hockey gold after 20 year wait
After success in the curling, the Swiss hailed even more good news when Michelle Gisin claimed the women’s combined gold in alpine skiing, with American giant-slalom winner Mikaela Shiffrin in silver, 0.97s behind. The USA women’s ice-hockey team won gold for the first time in 20 years in dramatic style, beating Canada 3-2 after a shoot-out, while fellow American David Wise retained the men’s skiing halfpipe title with a final-run score of 97.20.
Elsewhere across PyeongChang, the kids were alright for New Zealand. In the men’s halfpipe, 16-year-old New Zealander Nico Porteous took bronze to become the third-youngest man to win an individual Winter Olympics medal. Remarkably, he was the day’s second 16-year-old New Zealander claiming a podium place, with compatriot Zoi Sadowski Synnott securing third in the women’s big air – ending the country’s 26-year medal drought in the process.