Debut signals the end of long Olympic road for Lonsdale

Emma Lonsdale in the Ski Halfpipe Qualification in Sochi on Thursday.
Emma Lonsdale in the Ski Halfpipe Qualification in Sochi on Thursday.
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Yorkshire skiier Emma Lonsdale made her long-awaited Olympic debut yesterday – and then promptly retired.

The 29-year-old from Settle was the 11th and final Yorkshire athlete to enter Olympic competition when she contested the skiing halfpipe competition at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.

Lonsdale finished 18th out of 23 in qualification yesterday, in an event which British teenager Rowan Cheshire would have contested had it not been for the concussion she suffered on a training run at the start of the week.

Lonsdale – who learned to ski at a dry slope across the border in Cumbria – recorded a score of 53.20 points from her first run and improved slightly to 53.80 with her second, before announcing it would be her final act in the sport.

“That’s it now, I’m retiring,” she said.

“I was going to retire two years ago and then it became an 
Olympic discipline, and I thought I might as well give it one last push and leave on a high rather than fading away.

“I thought I might as well make the Olympics and then retire.”

Lonsdale – an alpine skier for 16 years before switching to moguls and then the halfpipe – hopes to remain part of the Team GB set-up in some capacity.

“I’d like to stay involved with the team. I might do my coaching qualifications, I’m not sure yet,” she added.

Exhilaration at winning a nail-biting semi-final kept David Murdoch up until 5am on Thursday, but he will be back on the ice today with it all to do again.

Great Britain’s curling rink ensured they will claim either silver or gold at the Sochi Games with a 6-5 semi-final triumph over world champions Sweden at the Ice Cube Curling Centre on Wednesday, with Murdoch’s nerveless final stone sealing a famous win.

Now it is on to favourites Canada in today’s final, which for Murdoch is the culmination of a journey that includes falling short at two previous Olympics and overcoming a career-threatening injury.

But the 35-year-old was not allowing a sleepless night to get in the way of “meticulous” preparation needed for today’s ultimate test. Asked about Wednesday’s victory, Murdoch said: “It was just jubilant scenes really, with the fact that you have realised a dream – you’ve got an Olympic medal, and that’s something I’ve been chasing for over 12 years now.

“There have been a lot of kicks in the teeth prior to this, and now it’s finally happened, you’re just so excited.

“We had a cool-down, a chat about the game and how our performance went, and then we had some food, went back, spoke to a few people on the phone, and there was just no way I was going to sleep. I was just too excited.

“I think it was 5am when I actually managed to shut my eyes.

“You just want to enjoy the moment.”