ZOE Gillings did her best to sound upbeat after losing out on an Olympic final place following a photo finish.
Leeds ace Gillings and Italian rival Michela Moioli rolled across the line on their backsides after both fell within sight of the finish in the women’s snowboard cross semi-finals in Rosa Khutor.
Unfortunately for Gillings, Moioli rolled just that little bit quicker.
It meant she settled for ninth place on her third Olympic appearance and was again left to reflect on what might have been, following her 15th in Turin and eighth four years ago in Vancouver.
It wouldn’t be snowboard cross – in which six riders race each other down a course punctuated with lumps, bumps and jumps – without some drama from American Lindsey Jacobellis.
She who wrote her name into sporting folklore by pulling a showboating trick within sight of the finish line at the 2006 Games – and falling flat on her face to lose gold, the ultimate example of sporting hubris.
She was well clear of her rivals again in Gillings’ semi-final, only to catch an edge and fall, which promoted the British snowboarder into a qualifying place but, decisively, also forced her to slow down. When Gillings came across the final jump she was neck and neck with Moioli but both fell again in their desperate attempt to make the top three, they didn’t dip for the line but tumble across it.
“I’m really disappointed about the photo finish. One of the officials said I’d made it but it flashed up on the screen about 15 seconds later that I hadn’t,” she said. “There are crashes in snowboard cross and you have to deal with it and concentrate on what you’re doing. It’s a big course but it needs to be big to be challenging, after all people expect that at the Olympics.
“My aim coming into the competition was to ride as well as I could and stay on my feet, I’ve almost done that.”
Gillings, 28, has overcome countless injuries, including crushing her foot – which left the bones inside ‘looking like cornflakes’ – in 2005. Doctors said she’d never snowboard competitively again but she’s already looking towards a fourth Olympic campaign in Pyeongchang although not until she’s finished planning her next project – a summer wedding to coach Dan Brier.
Great Britain’s men’s curling team meanwhile missed the chance to guarantee qualification through to the semi-finals following a 7-6 defeat by Norway. David Murdoch’s all-Scottish rink went into their penultimate round-robin match in the Ice Cube Curling Center knowing victory over their nearest challengers would secure a medal opportunity.
GB conceded a 2-0 second-end lead. That leaves their last fixture against China possibly crucial, with Norway, who have two games remaining against Switzerland and Denmark, still a threat.
British halfpipe skier Rowan Cheshire was reportedly knocked unconscious in a training accident at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on Sunday night.
The 18-year-old is due to compete on Thursday and is considered a medal prospect after winning her first World Cup title in Calgary last month.
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