She stayed on her skis and stayed out of trouble but seventh was the best Australian Katya Crema could manage in the women’s ski cross at the Winter Olympics.
After teammate Sami Kennedy-Sim had earlier become the seventh out of eight Australians in ski and snowboard cross events to get taken out or fall over, it was still quite the achievement.
It’s been a difficult competition for the Australians in the winter sport versions of motocross on snow but Crema handled the conditions the best of any.
She chose smart lines and kept high in her first two rounds, moving through to the semis and a shot at the medal round.
But her tactical nous wasn’t quite enough from there. She did spectacularly to avoid Swedish skier Sandra Naeslund around a banked turn but the time it cost her in changing line fairly well cost her any chance of making a play for second and a spot in the four-woman final.
“My God. There were a few almosts, but that’s the sport,” Crema said on another day when several athletes were stretchered off.
“I held it together and I have a seventh place finish so I am rapt.”
Canada dominated the event with Marielle Thompson winning ahead of compatriot Kelsey Serwa. Sweden’s Anna Holmlund was third.
In her last competitive ski race, three-time Winter Olympian Jenny Owens finished 12th.
“Once again I crashed in qualies, I think that’s the fourth time now on this track,” bemoaned Owens who at least stayed on her skis during both races.
“I’d made it down twice prior to that, so I was a bit nervous but you have to trust yourself and know you can stay on your feet at the end of the day and I did that.
“I don’t like jumps but that’s our sport. They are really big here.”
Kennedy-Sim, who had recovered from a stroke last year, was 28th after taking a slight clip to the skis by Anna Woerner.
The German later took a savage fall in the quarter-finals, course officials taking some time to transport her from the mountain.
In other events, 18-year-old Deanna Lockett finished ninth in the 1000m short track speed skating.
Lockett began at the back of the field in the second quarter-final, but made two passes and came within a whisker of progressing.
“I was just aiming to have a good race today,” Lockett said.
“The first few laps opened quite fast. The 1000 is not usually quite that fast. One minute 29 seconds is a really quick time – 1:28 is the World Record. I’m just so happy to have had a great, fast race.”
Lockett set a new personal best in the race, with her effort of 1:29.256 more than a second better than her previous quickest time.
And Australian women also acquitted themselves well in the slalom, with 18-year-old Greta Small finishing 31st.
Her teammate Lavinia Chrystal was 32nd, while 21-year-old Emily Bamford did not complete her second run.
Russian Victor An won the men’s 500m short track final, beating China’s Dajing Wu with Canadian Charle Cournoyer third.
Victor An won his second gold of the day for Russia when he teamed up with Semen Elistratov, Vladimir Grigorev and Ruslan Zakharov to take out the short track 5000m relay, with the USA winning silver and China the bronze.
In the women’s 1000m short track, South Korea’s Park Seung-Hi was too good, beating China’s Fan Kexin, with her fellow South Korean Shim Suk Hee in third place.
Canada thumped Great Britain 9-3 in the men’s curling final to win gold, while Sweden defeated China 6-4 to claim bronze.
In biathlon, the Ukrainian team of Juliya Dzhyma, Olena Pidhrushna, Valj Semerenko and Vita Semerenko were able to give their troubled country some joy when they won the women’s 4x6km relay. Russia took silver and Norway won bronze.
Mikaela Shiffrin, 18, of the USA won the women’s slalom, taking gold from Austrian pair Marlies Schild and Kathrin Zettel.
Marielle Thompson of Canada was too strong in the women’s ski cross, beating out teammate Kelsey Serwa with Sweden’s Anna Holmlund taking bronze.