An emotional Torah Bright said there “was more to life than snowboarding” after her seventh place in slopestyle, the Australian rider competing with the death of a friend’s child on her mind when she took to her first event of the Winter Olympics.
Shortly before the opening ceremony Bright posted about the tragic incident on Facebook and she used it to power her in competition on Sunday.
She could be seen to tap her heart before she launched into the slopestyle course and also shared an emotional hug with American winner Jamie Anderson.
“To me those relationships matter more than anything and it was really hard for me to be over here,” Bright said.
“I just had to get myself in a good place and tapping the heart chakra is very much a part of that.
“But I came to the conclusion that I need to be strong for them and I was going to give them joy by snowboarding my little heart out.”
The inspiration couldn’t quite get Bright into medal contention however, the 27 year-old slightly off the pace in the new Olympic discipline.
It was the first jump on both her runs in the final that brought her undone, Bright handslapping on the landings to lose valuable points with the judges.
She finished with a highest score of 66.25.
Anderson took out the event with a superb final run, laying down a marker of 95.25 that would not be topped.
Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi (92.5) was second while Great Britain’s Jenny Jones (87.25) was third.
Bright, the Vancouver gold medallist in the halfpipe four years ago, will now turn her attention to that discipline which is contested on Wednesday.
The first ever snowboarder to put her hand up for a three-event program at the Games, she will also compete in the snowboard cross.
“I think that was a wonderful representation of female snowboarding today. I’m proud to be a part of it,” Bright said, adding she’s be fighting fit for the halfpipe.
“I’m in good nick, still smiling and I love snowboarding.”
After a series of injuries in the men’s competition, and the withdrawal of American superstar Shaun White, Bright did maintain that the course wasn’t up to scratch.
“It’s kind of history now all of that. But I stand by my word that the level of build in the freestyle events doesn’t match the level of rider. I’m not whinging. It’s just the way it is,” she said.
Nor perhaps the judging.
“Judged sports are so hard. In a way you do kind of ride to what they are judging for. But then what they say they are judging for they don’t necessarily judge for. It is so hard and very rarely are people happy with the results,” she said.
How the Australians fared on day three of the Sochi Winter Olympics:
Women’s slopestyle snowboarding: Torah Bright – 7th
Men’s luge: Alex Ferlazzo – 33rd
Men’s cross country skiing 15km skiathlon: Callum Watson – 60th
Women’s biathlon 7.5km sprint: Lucy Glanville – 82nd
Who won what
National idol Yevgeny Plushenko and rising star Julia Lipnitskaia got hosts Russia off the mark sealing gold in the inaugural team figure skating.
It was a fourth Olympic medal for the 31-year-old but his achievement was almost overshadowed by Lipnitskaia, who sealed gold at the age of just 15 to euphoria at the Iceberg Skating Palace.
Watched by President Vladimir Putin, Russia took a precious gold on home soil even before the final round — the ice dance free dance.
Ice dancers Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov then stepped up and placed third behind Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White and Canadians Tessa virtue and Scott Moir.
The hosts won five of the eight sections over three days of competition to take gold with 75 points. Canada took silver with 65 with the United States bronze medallists with 60.
“I’m 31 years and this means everything to me. It’s so much history,” said 2006 Olympic champion and two-time silver medallist Plushenko.
Alpine skiing – downhill
Austrian tyro Matthias Mayer stormed to gold in the blue riband men’s downhill.
The 23-year-old clocked 2min 06.23sec down the 3.5km-long course for the first Austrian downhill gold since Fritz Stroebl in the 2002 Games at Salt Lake City.
Mayer also bettered his father Helmut’s silver-medal showing in the super-G at the Calgary Games in 1998.
“Of course it means a lot to me,” an emotional Mayer said. “It’s really difficult to go down the track without mistakes.”
Italian Christof Innerhofer took silver at just six-hundredths behind with Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud claiming bronze, a further 0.04sec adrift.
World downhill champion Aksel Lund Svindal was fourth and another strong favourite, Bode Miller of the United States, was eighth.
Nordic skiing – Skiathlon
Switzerland’s Dario Cologna powered to victory in the men’s skiathlon, hanging on for the second Olympic gold of his career an enthralling final sprint.
Cologna pushed ahead of his rivals with a bold move before the final corner and just managed to keep his lead finishing in 1hr 08min 15.4sec ahead of an attacking Marcus Hellner of Sweden who took silver in 1:08:15.8.
Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway and Maxim Vylegzhanin of Russia engaged in a titanic struggle for bronze with the Norwegian winning by an inch in a time of 1:08:16.8.
Luge – singles
Germany’s Felix Loch retained his Olympic title with the 24-year-old upsetting Russian Albert Demchenko’s hopes of becoming the oldest ever Olympic champion at the age of 42.
Loch — an eight-time world champion, four each in singles and teams — finished with a combined time of 3min 27.526sec after the four runs.
Demchenko, the world champion in 2004/05, was 0.476sec behind with double Olympic champion Armin Zoeggeler of Italy third at 1.271sec.
Ski jumping – normal hill
World Cup leader Kamil Stoch of Poland won the normal hill gold with jumps of 105.5m and 103.5m for a total of 278 points.
Slovenia’s Peter Prevc was second with 265.3 pts and Norway’s Anders Bardal, 264.1 pts, claimed bronze.
Switzerland’s Simon Ammann, 32, who came to Sochi as the reigning champion at both normal and large hills, which he won in 2006 at Turin and in 2010 in Vancouver, failed to earn a record fifth Olympic gold finishing in 17th position.
Snowboard – slopestyle
Jamie Anderson gave the United States a slopestyle double following Sage Kotsenburg’s victory in the men’s competition.
The four-time X-Games winner produced the goods on her second run with a near-perfect 95.25 score.
That pushed Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi down to second after her second run had produced a long-time leading 92.50.
Britain’s Jenny Jones held onto third with 87.25 for her country’s first ever medal on snow.
Speed skating – 3,0000m
Dutchwoman Ireen Wust powered to victory, stealing gold from defending Olympic champion Martina Sablikova.
Wust, the winner of the event at the 2006 Turin Games, raced in the penultimate pair, immediately after Sablikova had moved into the gold medal position, crossing the line in a time of 4min 0.34sec.
Sabilkova of the Czech Republic finished 1.61sec adrift in the silver medal position while Olga Graf won Russia’s first medal of the Games, a bronze, in 4:03.47.
Biathlon – 7.5km sprint
Defending champion Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia became the first woman to win two Olympic titles in the same individual biathlon when she stormed to victory in the 7.5km sprint.
The Russian-born Kuzmina won in a time of 21min 06min 8sec to see off Russia’s Olga Vilukhina who was 19.9sec behind. Vita Semerenko of Ukraine took bronze, 21.7sec behind the champion.
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