Winter Olympics: Team Ireland’s Maloney Westgaard 14th in cross-country skiing

Team Ireland’s Thomas Maloney Westgaard beat out 85 other athletes to secure 14th place in the Beijing Winter Olympic’s cross-country skiing 15km classic.

Day seven of the 2022 games saw the 26-year-old succeed in his targeting of a top-15 result in the event, as he competed in his second Olympics.

Maloney Westgaard finished in a time of 40:01.5, just 2:06.7 behind gold-medal winner Iivo Niskanen from Finland, as a total of 99 athletes contested the men’s time-trial competition.

Crossing the line, the Irish man was the fastest out of the early finishers and had a long wait to see where his overall standing would be.

Delighted with his best race in over a year, Maloney Westgaard said: “The main goal was to do two quite even laps.

“I knew it was going to be one of the toughest races, with nearly 600m of total climbing. So I tried to pace it really well and I started quite safe and I wasn’t too stressed, even though I heard I was a bit too far off.  I tried to go good technically and just improve over the race and, yeah, I just felt better and better and the feedback was better and better.

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Ireland’s Thomas Maloney Westgaard with Vitaliy Pukhkalo of Kasakhstan. Photo: INPHO/Bryan Keane

“It was just fantastic especially with the season I’ve had. It hasn’t really gone my way so far, and to pull off the best race I’ve done in a year with the preparations I’ve had. With Covid, without even knowing if I would reach the Olympics. Yeah, to prepare for a course like this with everything I’ve had, it’s unbelievable, it’s just fantastic.”

Also in action on Friday was skier Tess Arbez, who finished 42nd in the alpine Super-G in a time of 1:25.18.

Arbez was pleased with her closing race of her second Olympic Games, saying: “It was a really fun race, I really enjoyed it.

“It was really great to feel the speed of the long skis. I wish I could do one more now but it’s over.

“I think I could be a little be faster, straighter on the gates, keeping a little bit more of the speed position. But I’m happy to finish because it is the first time and Irish girl to ride the speed event, it was easier than I thought.”

Tomorrow is a rest day for Team Ireland, with the next competition taking place on February 13th with skier Jack Gower in the giant slalom event.

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