GB pair target elusive gold

  • Last Updated: March 12 2014, 14:03 GMT

Jade Etherington and Caroline Powell are prepared to sacrifice a fourth Winter Paralympics medal to go for an elusive gold after seeing slalom success slip through their fingers on Wednesday.

Jade Etherington: Claimed a second silver medal in Sochi
Jade Etherington: Claimed a second silver medal in Sochi

Visually-impaired skier Etherington and guide Powell claimed their third medal from as many events on their Games debut, but could not hide their intense frustration at having to settle for silver.

The pair were in pole position after the first run, but Russia's Aleksandra Frantceva turned around a 0.55 seconds deficit on the second to win by 0.65secs.

"We were aiming for the gold and we didn't get it," Etherington said.

And now the Britons are willing to risk everything in pursuit of revenge.

They are one of only three pairs left in the super combined, which will be completed on Friday with the super-G stage. Just finishing would guarantee another medal, but, comfortably in second, they are determined to go for broke and attempt to make up the 3.12s on Frantceva.

Taking it easy is not an option.

"It's a fight between me and Frantceva again, so we're just going to have to go for it," Etherington said.

"It's one run, you are not going to do it again. Bring on the day off tomorrow and we'll be ready for the super-G on Friday.

"Frantceva and I both started on the circuit at the same time, six years ago, so we've constantly had that battle.

"She used to beat me every single race and she was the one I would look up to. Now sometimes I beat her and sometimes I don't. It's good to have rivalry - and I've dragged Caroline into the fight."

No Briton has ever won four medals at one Winter Paralympics. But, with Wednesday's medal following their silver in the downhill and bronze in the super-G, that achievement is now within Etherington's and Powell's grasp.

It would be a remarkable feat for the debutants given they only met last April and have only been skiing together since August.

Another trip to their podium took Great Britain's medal tally to four, doubling UK Sport's target, but the pair's bitter disappointment with Wednesday's result was etched on their faces.

It was a sign of how much their ambitions have changed over the course of the Games.

"I know we can work really well together, I know we can do it," Etherington said.

They were the first pair out for the opening run, but, being fastest, went last for the second and were third quickest, but still managed to hold off Slovakia's Henrieta Farkasova, the bronze medallist, by more than a second.

Powell said: "The first run and second run were very different. The first run we started right at the front and got the best piste we could. The visibility was really good as well.

"On the second run visibility was not so good, it was a bumpier course because we were going down seventh so it's been raced on. We did well, but we didn't do well enough."

The pair's annoyance was nothing compared to the anger felt by team-mates Kelly Gallagher and Charlotte Evans, though.

Two days after their historic gold in the super-G, luck again deserted the fiery duo.

As snow fell for the first time during the Games at a floodlit Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre, they crashed out four gates from the finish of their first run.

They suffered the same fate on Tuesday in the slalom stage of the super combined and this time saw their hopes ended after Gallagher caught a rut and lost a ski.

"I can only have two adjectives, frustrating and upset," she said.

The pair have now had three days of disappointment either side of their golden moment in the super-G, which came after they finished last in the downhill.

"We had our luck with our gold, but we have definitely had our three bad lucks so hopefully it has come in threes and it's done now," guide Evans said.

"I have more anger than emotion."

Instead, it was 15-year-old Millie Knight who wore the biggest British smile of the day, marking her Games debut with a fifth-placed finish.

Britain's youngest ever Winter Paralympian, competing with guide Rachael Ferrier, who is only 18, punched the air with delight after her first run before a celebratory dance after the second.

"We had a bet with our coach Euan Bennett that if we came top five he would shave off his little beard. So that beard's going," Knight said.

In the sitting event, Anna Turney also finished in fifth place.

Meanwhile, inconsistency continued to dog Great Britain's wheelchair curlers as they slumped to their second heavy loss in two daysi.

A day after their 13-4 humbling by Finland, their biggest ever Winter Paralympic defeat, Aileen Neilson's rink collapsed to an 11-2 reverse to hosts Russia at Sochi's Ice Cube Curling Centre.

The result put their semi-final place in danger, leaving them with four wins and three losses, with the pressure now on for Thursday's matches against the United States and China.

It all went wrong early on Wednesday as the hosts, joint top of the round-robin stage with Canada, won by two stones on the second and third ends.

Another two-stone end in the fifth made it 6-1 before a five-stone end in the seventh sealed an emphatic defeat for Britain.

Neilson said: "It was a tough game. Russia played extremely well and we just weren't taking the shots. If you don't make the shots against a team that's playing like that then you don't win.

"I know we've not been as consistent as we would like to be, so that's what we have to focus on.

"We have to come out tomorrow and we have to put on our best performance if we want to reach the play-offs, it's as simple as that."


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