Flawless Galmarini clinches men’s parallel giant slalom gold
Switzerland’s Nevin Galmarini produced the perfect race to hold off a determined challenge from the Lee Sang-ho (ROK) in the big final of the men’s giant parallel slalom at Phoenix Snow Park on Saturday 24 February.
A silver medallist in the same event at Sochi 2014, Galmarini crossed the line 0.43 seconds ahead of Lee, who recorded a personal best as he claimed a landmark silver for the host nation. The Swiss snowboarder was a model of consistency throughout the competition, having won all of his heats and qualifying for the final in first place.
In the small final, Zan Kosir of Slovenia, who missed out on a place in the gold medal race by just one hundredth of a second, defeated France’s Sylvain Dufour.
"Today was incredible. I was feeling so good from the beginning,” said Galmarini, who at 31 was one of the oldest competitors in the field. “I always knew what my challenge was, what I wanted to do. Fantastic that I managed to pull it off at the Olympics, such a perfect day.
The Swiss snowboarder also paid tribute to the home crowd, whose vociferous support for Lee ensured an electric atmosphere at the Phoenix Snow Park.
"Of course, they were all cheering for Lee and he's a great athlete and a friend too. I was feeling good that there is a crowd, people cheering, no problem at all, it was good."
The 27-year-old said his philosophy going into the competition had been to “go hard” and “ride without fear” and it paid off handsomely.
“I knew I was in good shape. I just wanted to ride without fear. Go hard every turn. [My view was that] if it doesn't work out, then walk away proud. If it works out, even better.
First on snow for host nation
Meanwhile, Lee’s silver represented a historic moment for the host nation, giving them their first ever Olympic medal on snow.
“This medal is very meaningful because our country got a first medal in snowboard, so I’m very proud,” said the 22-year-old, who is a former junior world champion.
“There are many people who have come here to see me and at first I felt quite afraid because I had to satisfy [them]. But when I started to compete, everything was very cheerful and I was so proud of them and I’m so happy.”
Bronze again for Kosir
For Kosir who matched his third-place finish at Sochi 2014, there was disappointment at missing out on a shot at gold by such a narrow margin, but also a sense of joy at finishing on the podium after a long period recovering from injury.
“My feelings are little bit mixed,” said the Slovenian. “I’m very happy for the medal… but no gold yet for me and probably one of my last races.
“Three years ago I couldn’t walk and I thought I would never snowboard again… to be on the podium, this is for sure a big success”