NZ's 'Awesome Foursome' bow out in semifinals
The Winter Olympics of New Zealand's "Awesome Foursome" is over, after none of the Kiwi quartet in the women's snowboard slopestyle semifinal managed to qualify for the final in Sochi yesterday.
New Zealand lost its first competitor before the semifinal even began, with Christy Prior withdrawn after a crash in practice yesterday at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
The remaining Kiwi boarders, Shelly Gotlieb, Rebecca "Possum" Torr and Stefi Luxton, then failed to finish in the top four in the semifinal, missing out on a spot in the final.
Luxton said the late withdrawal of Prior, who was ranked seventh in the world coming into the Olympics and seen as the top New Zealand chance of a podium finish, was a shock to her fellow Kiwi competitors
"I feel so bad for Christy," the Wanaka-based snowboarder said.
"I definitely goes into the back of your mind, but you have to carry on and try and focus on the competition again.
"If we have one less girl riding, we obviously had one less chance at reaching the final.
"We were representing her and New Zealand - trying to do everyone proud."
Prior's accident came during her second run in training pre-competition yesterday, when she was performing a backside 360 and didn't land the jump cleanly.
New Zealand winter high performance manager Ashley Light described the incident as "a pretty nasty crash" and said that Prior has been placed under observation for a potential concussion.
"We're just looking after Christy at the moment - but it's unfortunate news for Christy after all that hard work," he said.
Even though the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park has drawn criticism for the challenging nature of the course, Light said the Prior's accident was simply the "nature of the sport" of snowboard slopestyle.
"I think all the girls here have got comfortable with the course," he said.
"It's just the nature of the sport. [Prior] is certainly not the only girl to pull out.
"Before comp, in the preliminaries, we had two other girls pull out from other nations.
" Unfortunately, it's just the nature of the event."
Gotlieb was the best placed Kiwi, finishing seventh in the semifinal with a best run of 63.25. Luxton finished eighth with a best run of 60.25, and Torr tenth with a top run of 32.50.
The semifinal was a messy one, with the majority of boarders experiencing a fall on one, if not both, their runs.
Luxton, who was ranked the last boarder in the 24-strong field, finished 16th overall - and was happy with her overall Olympics performance.
"I felt quite a lot of pressure going into my second run, because I fell on my first," she said.
"My main goal at the whole Olympics was to be styely and clean with my runs. That's what I tried to do, and I think I did."
Sarka Pancochova of the Czech Republic, Sina Candrian of Switzerland, Jenny Jones of Great Britain and Norwegian Silje Norendal qualified for the final, joining the eight who qualified directly on Friday morning.