Five years after suffering a career-threatening stroke, Australian ski cross competitor Sami Kennedy-Sim has finally been able to show her best at a Winter Olympics and delivered in style – finishing eighth.
The result was one place short of equalling Australia’s record performance in the event and followed her brave performance in Sochi four years ago, when she struggled to finish 28th only one year after her medical emergency.
Her 2013 stroke happened only days after knee surgery and resulted in her suffering a facial droop and paralysis on her left side.
On Friday, Kennedy-Sim was ranked ninth after Thursday’s seeding, and after the withdrawal of an Italian athlete from her heat she was guaranteed to advance to the quarter-final as long as she made it to the finish.
In the semi-final, however, needing a top-two finish to reach the medal round, Kennedy-Sim started badly and lost a lot of time on her three rivals. She made up some ground before finishing third and missed out on the big final.
In her final race she finished fourth, to end up with eighth position overall.
“I feel like I did my best today and I left everything that I have out on the track today,” she told Channel Seven. “[It’s] bittersweet. [It’s the] best result of the season so far but would have been nice to be in the top four.”
Kailani Craine, who qualified for the women’s free skating after a fine debut performance on Wednesday, continued to win fans at home and abroad, finishing 17th overall.
A season-best score of 111.84, combined with her short program score of 56.77, saw Craine finish well outside the medals but above plenty of other highly-fancied skaters.
“I have no words,” Craine said after the event.
“It’s been such a good atmosphere and all the girls, we are all such good friends as well. We are all in it together and I am excited to be here and share it with such amazing people.
“I think this is good momentum mentally going into the World Championships.
“I’m happy that I not only came to the Olympics, but I did two solid programs. It couldn’t be better for me.”