Anna Segal has fallen agonisingly short of claiming Australia’s first medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, finishing fourth in the Women’s skiing slopestyle.
Having qualified in seventh place for the final, Segal’s first run in the final was composed and proficient, and scored an impressive 77.00.
At the conclusion of all competitors’ first runs, Segal was sitting in third position behind Canadian Dara Howell (94.20) and American Devin Logan (85.40).
Segal, the 2011 world champion, crashed out of her second run, scoring only 28.80, but her first-run score remained in the third position.
The Australian painstakingly waited for the remaining competitors to finish their runs – which included a horrific crash suffered by Canadian Yuki Tsubota – and looked as if she had clinched a medal.
But the last remaining woman that could possibly leapfrog Segal, Canadian Kim Lamarre, pulled off a brilliant run to score 85.00 and claim the bronze medal.
Segal admitted she was battling a head cold, as well as a persistent knee injury that she had kept quiet, but was pleased with her efforts.
“I’m so proud of how I went,” Segal said.
“I never knew how hard the Olympics are! They are bloody draining, and I’m stoked with fourth.
“I woke up this morning all groggy, and I didn’t know how I could get through. But I just went out there and got it done.”
After damaging her knee at a World Cup event in Switzerland early in 2013, things never really picked up and she had struggled in competition without a significant result since.
If not for the Games, she would’ve packed in her season some time ago.
“I probably would have gone home and had surgery,” she said.
“There was never a stage that it was too hard. It was whether they (officials) were going to let me compete – it got to that stage.
“Once I started skiing on my knee, I knew that I’d be able to get here.
“This road has been so long. I have seen so many of my friends from other countries go down, blow ACLs, not get selected on the US team, not get selected on the Canadian team, and the fact that I am here and am still skiing, I’ve got no regrets really.”
Australia have had four top-eight finishes at these Games but, at this stage, there are no medals.
“We’re getting closer,” Australian chef de mission Ian Chesterman said.
Australian Kent Callister claimed Australia’s best ever finish in the men’s snowboard halfpipe, finishing ninth.
The 18-year-old scored 40.00 in his first run before a solid 68.50 in his second to claim ninth spot, some way behind winner Iouri Podladtchikov of Switzerland.
American Shaun White, gunning for his third consecutive gold at the event, finished in fourth place.
Earlier on Tuesday, Australia’s best hope in the halfpipe, Scotty James, was surprisingly eliminated in the heats, while his teammate Nathan Johnstone was knocked out in the semi-finals.
In other events, Esther Bottomley made history and became the first female Cross Country skier to race at three successive Games.
The 31-year-old from Victoria finished in 56th place in qualification for the sprint free event, missing out on the finals.
Nevertheless, Bottomley was proud of her efforts and now turns her attention to Thursday’s 10km classic.
“I gave it everything I could out there so I’m happy with how I went,” she said.
“The course is fantastic but it was pretty interesting with the conditions.
“Tomorrow I will put on the Classic skis, which for me it has been a while, then I have the 10km race the next day on what is a very, very gruelling course.”
Australian duo Phil Benningham and Callum Watson both failed to make the final of the men’s cross-country sprint.
Benningham finished in 55th place, while Watson managed 85th, with only the top 30 competitors making it through to quarter-finals.
• Belarusian Darya Domracheva took gold in the women’s biathlon 10km pursuit, beating Norway’s Tora Berger and Slovenian Teja Gregorin.
• In the women’s cross country sprint free, Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla won out from compatriot Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg and Slovenia’s Vesna Fabjan.
• Ola Vigen Hattestad completed a Norwegian double by taking out the men’s sprint free, beating out Swedish pair Teodor Peterson and Emil Joensson.
• Canadian Dara Howell was too good in the women’s ski slopestyle final, winning from American Devin Logan and Canada’s Kim Lamarre.
• In the women’s singles luge, Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger edged compatriot Tatjana Huefner to claim gold with American Erin Hamlin taking the bronze.
• South Korea’s Sang Hwa Lee won gold in the women’s 500m speed skating, winning from Russian Olga Fatkulina and Dutchwoman Margot Boer.
• Switzerland’s Iouri Podladtchikov was triumphant in the men’s snowboard halfpipe, taking gold ahead of Japanese pair Ayumu Hirano, 15, and Taku Hiraoka.
• And Germany’s Carina Vogt won the women’s ski-jumping normal hill individual event, with Austrian Daniela Iraschko-Stolz taking silver and Frenchwoman Coline Mattel.