PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Four years ago, Andre Myhrer was in second place going into the deciding run of the Olympic slalom, but failed to finish the course as he struggled with an injured knee.
The fortune that deserted the Swede then was firmly back on his side on Thursday as his two top rivals self-destructed at different stages of the competition.
After winning slalom gold at the age of 35, Myhrer told reporters he had not witnessed race favorite Marcel Hirscher skiing out in the morning run, only noticing at the finish line that the Austrian’s name was missing from the leaderboard.
But he was certainly watching anxiously in the afternoon, already sure of coming at least second, when Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen blew a 0.21-second lead from the first run by making a fatal mistake in the early part of the course.
“I was nervous of course but at the same time I was really happy about my silver medal. I knew that I had a silver... You know it’s slalom, it can happen. And that feeling when I realized I had won the gold was hard to describe,” Myhrer said.
Myhrer was asked about the contrast with his experience in Sochi four years ago.
“I just fell apart in the second run because it felt like it was a tough course for me and I couldn’t really handle it with the condition I had with my knee,” he told a news conference.
“Coming into the Olympic Games you have a lot of dreams. It was a tough Olympics for me but I think somehow, summarizing that Olympics, I knew I would have my chance again and I’ve been working hard for four years since then.”
The music fan joked: “I said sometime that I would buy a guitar for every win. I’m not really sure what an Olympic gold is worth in guitars. Maybe I have to buy two.”
But it has not always been plain sailing for the Swede, who first competed in the Olympics in 2006 and whose best before now was a bronze in Vancouver in 2010.
He suffered a back injury last year and trails both Hirscher and Kristoffersen in the World Cup slalom and overall standings this year.
“The old man took the gold medal,” his coach Heinz-Peter Platter told reporters.
“He was handed a chance when the two fastest skiers this year skied out, but he was the best today. In the end, at this level, you have to be on top with your mind and then the luck will come to help you.”
Additional reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Ed Osmond