PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Four years ago in Sochi, Canada’s Dara Howell shocked the world as a 19-year-old to win the inaugural Olympic freestyle skiing slopestyle event.
But this time around it was a very different result, as she failed to successfully land either run during qualifying and finish 21st. With the top 12 going through to the final, Howell failed to give herself the chance to defend her Olympic title.
It has been a tricky road back to the Olympics for Howell, who took almost two years out of the sport to re-focus following her gold in Sochi. There were also injury complications she had to overcome on her journey to Pyeongchang.
“It is not the result that I wanted but it is something I am really grateful for,” said Howell, adding that the speed on the course had surprised her.
“I feel like as me, as Dara, I have had a lot of success in my life so far. I have had hard times too but they make me who I am and that is something I am really grateful for.
“I wouldn’t change my result today, because it defines me, makes me who I am and makes me humble.”
Howell was determined to return for the Beijing Games in 2022, although her father might not be too happy with that decision.
“My dad is going to kill me,” the 23-year-old joked. “I just said to him ‘well, I have got to go four more years’.
“I don’t think I am done and I still have things to prove to myself.”
American Caroline Claire was another high-profile athlete to drop out during qualifying.
Claire, ranked fifth in the FIS world cup rankings, finished last after falling twice but the 18-year-old was thankful for the chance to compete at an Olympics.
“I gave everything I could today,” Claire told reporters. “The Olympics are indescribable. Having everyone at the bottom cheering for you, even when you fall, words can’t describe that feeling.” (Reporting by Jack Tarrant; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)