Mitch Gourley sees positives in Paralympic medal near miss

Supplied image of Australian LW6/8-2 Paralympic skier Mitchell Gourley during a downhill training session ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, Wednesday, March 7, 2018. (AAP Image/Australian Paralympic Committee, Sport The Library, Jeff Crow)

PyeongChang hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Mitch Gourley but he is starting to see some positives in his Winter Paralympics performances.

Australian alpine skier Gourley is to take his fourth shot at a medal these Games in the giant slalom on Wednesday, a day after failing to make the most of holding bronze position in the super-combined.

Gourley had to settle for fifth in the standing class of the event – in which he is world champion – after minor but costly errors on his favoured slalom component after a superb super-G run.

The result comes after his DNF in the downhill and 12th in the super-G on the opening two days of the Games.

Instead of clinching his own first Paralympic medal on Tuesday, he was celebrating countrywoman and fellow three-time Paralympian Melissa Perrine’s in the women’s vision-impaired super-combined.

The 26-year-old Gourley believes the PyeongChang course doesn’t do him any favours in terms of being too flat for his smaller physique, meaning he has to take more risks.

But the world No.3 hasn’t given up hope of a giant slalom medal.

“This hill makes it tough for me in a few events and it’s certainly been that way in the combined now,” Gourley said.

“But I guess I’ve proved this morning that I can compete and do well on this hill when I ski well, so I’ll hopefully do that in giant slalom.”

After competing in near-15 degree temperatures on snow that had been refrozen with salt, Gourley believes he will learn from misreading the conditions in the super-combined slalom.

“I just never really got into the rhythm,” he said.

“The snow broke down a bit and I just didn’t know how it was going to behave and I didn’t trust it essentially.

“I just didn’t know how I was going to perform. We don’t often ski on those kinds of surface and they’re pretty specific.

“I just didn’t adapt as well as some of the other guys did.”

Perrine will back up for the giant slalom a day after becoming Australia’s second medallist of the Games following Simon Patmore’s gold in snowboard cross.

“I’ll reflect after all this is over, but the job’s not done yet,” she said.

“We’ve still got two more races to go so we can’t get too caught up in this.

“I’ll celebrate but I’ve got another race tomorrow.”

We've teamed up with Australian Associated Press to ensure you get both accurate and up to date reporting for the PyeongChang 2018 Games from the AAP team of top notch reporters, Olympic veteran sports and snow reporter Glenn Cullen and young gun Warren Barnsley and award winning photographer Dan Himbrechts.


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