A NOSE JOB, THEN GOLD
AS OF PRESS TIME
A sickening fall left Yuki Tsubota with a suspected broken jaw yesterday, but her fellow Canadian Dara Howell had to contend with a less serious but more embarrassing facial injury as she rode to Olympic slopestyle gold in Sochi.
"I woke up two mornings ago and put my hand over my head, and there's glass lampshades on the wall, and one fell right on my face," a laughing Howell (right) said, after her gold medal performance in the freestyle skiing.
"They put a couple of stitches in there, so the scarring's not bad. It's fine, it's no big deal. It's just something stupid that I did and it happens."
Considering how more serious injuries had depleted the field as slopestyle skiing made its Olympic debut, Howell got off pretty lightly.
Norway's Tiril Sjaastad Christiansen was forced to pull out of the competition with a knee problem and American teenager Maggie Voisin withdrew last Saturday after sustaining an ankle injury in training at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
PLENTY OF FALLS
There were also plenty of falls during the competition as favourite and world champion Kaya Turski, who underwent knee surgery last year, crashed on both runs and missed the final, along with Germany's Lisa Zimmerman.
By far, the worst fall, however, was suffered by Tsubota, who lay motionless at the bottom of the final jump after crashing on her second run before being carried off on a stretcher.
"The initial assessment from our physician was that (she had broken her jaw)," said Canadian team official Peter Judgesaid. "They're taking her in for more assessments, but there's nothing other than that."
Howell produced a stunning run to take the gold and dedicated her win to a dead teammate.
Sarah Burke was one of the pioneers of the superpipe event and lobbied tirelessly to have slopestyle included on the Olympic programme.
But the Canadian died in a superpipe - that discipline is not on the Olympic programme - accident in Utah two years ago at just 29 years of age.
"I said the other day that I really hope a Canadian brings home a gold medal and it will be for Sarah," the champion said. "This medal is definitely for Sarah, she pushed the sport so much, she always wanted to see the progression and to see girls throwing kind of what the guys were throwing.
"She always had a smile on her face and loved what she did. Today, I feel like that's what I did (brought home the gold for Burke)."
Howell, the world championship silver medallist, won with an incredible score of 94.20 points on her first run with no-one else getting close to it.
Devin Logan of the US took silver with 85.40, and Canada's Kim Lamarre won bronze just 0.40 behind.
It was a mixed day for the Canadians.
Apart from Tsubota's crash, world champion and favourite Turski's failure ensured she finished 19th out of 22 competitors.
"They were just two separate mistakes. I just didn't have much confidence going into the first run," she said. "The second run was going alright, not my best, but then I just hit a bump and overdid it. It just happened."
MEDAL TALLY WINTER