Katie Summerhayes did her best to put a brave face on it, dabbing away the tears and flashing a resigned smile to show off her Union flag mouthguard. But her body language said it all – she was far from happy.
Summerhayes is the youngest member of the 56-strong British team in Sochi, celebrating her 18th birthday just a few months ago.
It means her chance will come again but that didn’t ease her disappointment yesterday (Tuesday) as she settled for seventh in the first-ever women’s freestyle skiing slopestyle final.
Older heads, including her coach Pat Sharples, will be keen to accentuate the positive and underline the value of this experience when the opportunity rolls around again.
But Summerhayes, like most teenagers, wants it all and wants it all now.
She arrived in Sochi as a genuine medal hope after her fourth place at last year’s World Championships and recent World Cup silver in Gstaad.
And she underlined that potential by advancing to the final in third place, her cause boosted by the failure of Canada’s Kaya Turski, the defending world and X Games champion, to make the final.
However, a fall on her first run and a second run that saw Summerhayes twice put her hands down on landing her jumps, meant her score failed to make an impact on the podium places.
Even in Turski’s absence Canada dominated, Dara Howell taking gold and Kim Lamarre bronze while the USA’s Devin Logan claimed silver.
“I’m gutted and there’s been tears. It happens, that’s our sport and people fall,” said Summerhayes. “I’m still happy with how I skied, so I need to take some positives.
“The first run was really slushy and I’m not really sure what happened, I landed a bit back seat and the next thing I was on the floor.
“The second run I did I wanted but I put my hands down twice on landing and that’s the difference between winning and losing. It’s my fault and it’s just one of those things.
“I want to push this sport and I knew if I put my run down I was in with a good chance but it just didn’t go my way.”
Summerhayes’ final run was delayed after her close friend, Canadian skier Yuki Tsubota, suffered a heavy fall, which left her with a suspected broken jaw.
Some competitors raised concerns about the state of the course, with the snow becoming ‘slushy’ due to the warm conditions in the Caucasus Mountains. Indeed, today’s forecast for Sochi is a positively tropical 18 degrees, warmer than some days at London 2012.
“I was conscious of the conditions but it wasn’t really a problem,” insisted Summerhayes.
“We’ve been skiing on this sort of snow for a few days now and we ski in these conditions in summer, so there’s no excuse.”
Summerhayes insisted she will quickly reset her sights on establishing herself as a consistent medallist at the top level and is already looking ahead to the Pyeongchang Games in four years, where she hopes to be joined by 16-year old sister Molly.
“It’s my plan to be back here in four years with my sister, that would be amazing,” she added.
“We’ve not skied together for a while but we had so much fun skiing growing up and to be together at the Olympics, that would be the pinnacle.
“I’m disappointed I didn’t do better but my first goal was the final and I achieved that. The last few months have been a real struggle with injuries and it’s been tough.
“Considering all those problems just competing was a success and I’m pleased to have proved a few people, you told me I couldn’t get fit, wrong.”
South Yorkshire’s Sochi focus now turns to James Woods, also in the Slopestyle skiing, and skeleton bobsleigh star Shelley Rudman.
Woods picked up a hip injury on Friday and has been undergoing treatment, but is expected to be fit to compete in tomorrow’squalifier.
Rudman practiced again yesterday ahead of the heats which also begin tomorrow and the Sheffield based 32-year-old was happy to be making progress.
“I’m pleased with (yesterday), things that I was struggling with (on Monday) I’ve managed to correct, so that’s positive. I feel like I’m getting into the rhythm of things, it’s coming together and I’m really enjoying my time out here,” she said.
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