Teenager Greta Small finished the event 31st (1:57.60), 24-year-old Lavinia Chrystal was 32nd (1:57.90) and 21-year-old Emily Bamford was unlucky to record a DNF- failing to finish her second run.
It was a historic Olympics for Small, who raced in every women’s Alpine event. Despite being unhappy with her first run, she returned to form the second time down to have a rewarding end to the Games.
“I’m just happy to finish my Games on a run that I enjoyed,” said Small, who improved nine places after her second run.
The plan to race in all five events, hatched by the 18-year-old and her coach/father Boyd, made Small the busiest athlete in the 60-strong Australian Team.
“I’m pretty tried right now,” she admitted at the end of the night.
“But when I was in the start gate I said to Boyd; ‘it’s all over, and this is my last run of the Games for the next four years- just enjoy it.’ And that’s what I did in my second run.”
Small’s time of 56.41 seconds was 5.30 outside the leaders- far stronger than her first run which was 8.57 outside eventual gold medal winner, American Mikaela Shiffrin. Austrians Marlies Schild collected the silver medal (+0.53) and Kathrin Zettel the bronze (+0.81).
Crossing the line to finish her debut Olympics meant many things to Small, one of the first that came to mind: “relief!”
“I’ve really enjoyed these Games. But I’m really happy that it’s over,” Small said.
“I probably put a little too much pressure on myself for these last few races than I did in the first ones.”
In run one, teammate Lavinia Chrystal had the Sochi Slalom course on a piece of string. Chrystal skied sub 1 minute to climb into 34th position, but a costly mistake in her second run stopped her from climbing the leader board any higher than 32nd.
“You really have to fight your way down,” Chrystal said.
“You have to stick with what you inspect and what your race plan is… I was just trying to stay forward, be aggressive and attack.
“I’ve had a really good two weeks training coming into this so I’d built up a lot of confidence.
“I mean, it’s the Olympics, and you’ve just got to throw it down and hope that it goes to plan and I’m really stoked with that,” she said after her first run.
It was a special night for Chrystal, who once again had family in the crowd supporting her.
“It’s so cool especially coming down the finish in the Slalom. There are so many gates and you come over those rolls at the end and you can feel the crowd and it sort of lifts you up.
“My parents are here in the crowd and every time I finish I can hear them yelling. It’s so nice to have them here because obviously they’ve been a huge part of my journey to get here- you know with my injuries and everything mum’s been my nurse, helping me get back. So to have them here is really special.”
Emily Bamford laid everything on the line in her second run after not meeting her expectations in the first time down, but pushed too hard and missed a gate, recording a DNF.
“I know that I was going for it that run and was doing all I could, but the gate was between my legs and I couldn’t do much after that,” Bamford said.
But the entire Olympic experience has been a rewarding one for Bamford.
“Next time I’m not going to be in the start gate kind of feeling ‘oh my God, this is the Olympics’, I’ll be in the start gate like… I can do this.”
The Australian men Dominic Demschar and Ross Peraudo compete in the men’s Slalom tomorrow.
Taya Conomos | sochi2014.olympics.com.au