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Double delight for Australia’s ski cross team

16 February 2016

FREESTYLE SKIING: Zali Offord and Louis Muhlen have rounded out Australia’s most successful day at a Winter Games with silver and bronze medals in the Lillehammer 2016 ski cross competition on Hafjell Olympic Slope.

Offord, named after famous alpine skier Zali Stegall, now has an Olympic medal of her own after a consistent day of racing saw her push the Swiss gold medallist all the way to the line in the women’s event. 

Just moments after Australia had claimed its third Lillehammer 2016 medal, Muhlen made it four when the alpine specialist was able to pick himself up from a crash and finish third behind clear winner Reece Howden of Canada and silver medallist Xander Vercammen of Belgium.

Fellow Australian Doug Crawford moved into the semi-finals ranked ahead of Muhlen but finished fourth in his semi, before going on to claim sixth overall with a second place finish in the small final.

The results follow on from Alex Dickson’s silver medal in the snowboard cross to make Lillehammer 2016 the most successful Winter Games campaign for an Australian Team.

For Offord it was an even more remarkable result considering she was off snow for 15 days after a crash on 29 January left her concussed and her preparation disrupted.

“I can’t believe it, I am over the moon,” said the 17-year-old from Helensburgh, south of Sydney.

“I had a bit of a rough run leading in to Lillehammer 2016 and had a bit of a crash today but it was all good.”

Offord was the fastest out of the gates but just couldn’t hold on for the victory.

“It was a pretty good final. I had the girl at the start and she is a good skier as well, one of the top Swiss girls. It was a really good race, I worked hard and came away with second.”

Muhlen was the only skier from the alpine competition to compete in the ski cross and the gamble certainly paid off.

“It was pretty sick and unexpected.” said Muhlen. “It was my second ski cross event so I didn’t really know what was going on and missed out on one of the training days as well.

“I came in as the underdog and it turned out pretty good.”

With Muhlen’s final being the last on the day he had the chance to be inspired by what had the other Aussies were able to achieve throughout a stellar day for the team.

“It was sick to see. It was good racing and I guessed the track worked for the Aussies. We couldn’t scrape out a gold but we found everything else.” 

Muhlen will now have a day off competition before he races the Giant Slaom on Wednesday in Norway.

Matt Bartolo
olympics.com.au

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