Bourne’s para-alpine skier Jade Etherington leads the field at the half way point of the Slalom this morning (Wednesday).
Partially-sighted Etherington, 23, and her guide Caroline Powell laid down a stunning first run in a time of 1:00.87 at the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics.
The competition was moved from Friday to what was originally scheduled as a rest day but the pair took advantage of being the first out the gate on the fresh snow, to beautifully traverse the slope in tight formation, which is often the key to success in partially-sighted skiing.
As the pair crossed the line they could be heard celebrating over the radio system they use to communicate on when tackling the course.
Slalom involves skiing between 52 poles (gates) spaced much closer together than in Giant Slalom, Super-G or Downhill, requiring skiers to make quicker and shorter turns.
Slalom and Giant Slalom (GS) are the technical events of alpine ski racing. This category separates them from the speed events of Super-G and Downhill.
A course is constructed by laying out a series of gates. Gates are formed by alternating pairs of red and blue poles. The skier must pass between the two poles forming the gate, with the tips of both skis and the skier’s feet passing between the poles.
Athletes get two runs on different courses, with the quickest combined time from the two runs taking gold.
With the snow teaming down this morning Etherington finished in first place, with Russia’s Aleksandra Frantceva +0.55 seconds behind her in second, and Slovakia’s Henrieta Farkasova +1.33 seconds back from the leader.
Four competitors fell on the first run including Great Britain’s Kelly Gallagher who was in the middle of laying down a competition best time according to the splits on the course, when she lost her ski.
The other finishers were Jessica Gallagher in fourth, +3.22 behind, United States Danelle Umstead in +7.87 and last to complete the course was Great Britain’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony 15-year-old Millie Knight in +9.00.
Etherington and Powell will now be going for gold at 8.30am when they have to lay down a second clean run.
Etherington, who already won silver in the Downhill on Saturday and bronze in the Super-G on Monday, said: “In slalom anything can happen, but we learnt from our mistakes yesterday and we brought that into today.”
“We were really close from the beginning, that normally tells us if we are going to have good run or not.
“So I think we will just look back at the run we just did and go for it again and see what happens.”