On a day of brilliant boarding, Bright proved she is one of the elite competitors before coming up just short of Australia’s first medal of the Games.
After a disappointing opening run, Bright responded like a true champion on her final run. Landing all of her tricks including a switch backside 540, Bright registered 41.0 to challenge the early leaders.
Bright just missed landing the first trick in her opening run and subsequently scored just 17.0. That left Bright in 10th place going into the second run. But pressure seems to bring the best out in the affable 19-year-old. Reigning gold medallist and pre-final favourite Kelly Clark finished 0.1 point ahead of Bright in 4th place.
Clark’s team-mate Hannah Teter took the gold medal with 46.4 ahead of fellow American Gretchen Bleiler’s 43.4. Norway’s Kjersti Buaas took bronze with 42.0.
Bright qualified for the final with an outstanding performance in the second qualifying run, where she finished 1st with a score of 43.1. Bright’s score was the second highest registered in qualifying, just behind Clark who led the first run with a score of 44.9.
The Cooma-born boarder had the large crowd and her support team on its feet following her eye-catching performance in the qualifying, and that support carried through to the final. Twelve competitors qualified for the final from the morning session. Australian Holly Crawford performed admirably after her recent injury in training, but missed a berth in the final in 18th.
Good results without medals
Craig Branch has claimed Australia’s best result in downhill skiing at a Winter Olympics in 18 years by finishing 32nd at Sestriere Borgata on Day Two of the Games in Torino.
The first skier sent out, Branch overcame nerves associated with his early start to finish in 1 minute and 52.55 seconds to better his own 45th placing in Salt Lake City and complete the best Australian result in the event since Steven Lee was 22nd in Calgary in 1988.
“I was really happy with the way I skied at the top. I charged the top section and skied quite well up there. It’s steep with tough turns up there so that was good,” Branch told Olympics.com.au. “I just felt I lost a lot of time from midway through to the bottom section. I can’t be too disappointed. It was a great opportunity to kick off the Olympic downhill and not too many people get to do that.” In the cross country, Australian Clare-Louise Brumley was 42nd in the Ladies’ 15km pursuit at Pragelato Plan.
In the men’s halfpipe at the snowboarding, the three Australians in the event all missed the final. Mitchell Allan scored 28 points in qualifying to finish 31st overall in Bardonecchia, narrowly ahead of compatriot Andrew Burton (26), who was 32nd, while Ben Mates was 42nd overall. In the first qualification run Allan was 19th overall, with Burton 34th and Mates 43rd, while in the second run Allan came in 25th ahead of Burton (26th) and Mates (36th), with none of the three making it through to the finals.
In the short track speed skating at Palavela, Mark McNee finished fourth in his five-man heat of the 1500m, to bow out but, even though he has the 1000m to come, he has vowed to contest the 1500m again in four years because of his disappointment at his early exit.
Australian medal hope Dale Begg-Smith will be competing in the Men’s moguls on Day 5.