Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

O'Connor makes halfpipe semis

Ireland's Seamus O'Connor reached the semi-finals of the men's snowboard halfpipe
Ireland's Seamus O'Connor reached the semi-finals of the men's snowboard halfpipe

Irish snowboarder Seamus O'Connor failed to qualify for the Winter Olympics halfpipe final, but was pleased with his efforts.

Having reached the semi-final by finishing eighth in the first heat, American-born O'Connor could not advance any further after coming ninth, with the top six qualifying for the showpiece event.

He would have been, at 16, the second youngest competitor in the final behind 15-year-old Japanese prodigy Ayumu Hirano, who topped the standings in the first heat of qualifying.

O'Connor, who can compete for Ireland through his grandparents, was fourth after the first run, despite suffering a slip, with a score of 54.00.

He looked on course for a bigger score but failed to land his final trick properly, which marked him down, and was gradually overhauled.

"It was my hope that if I had landed that run, that I could have made it (to the final)," he told Press Association Sport.

Nevertheless, O'Connor, who also competed in the slopestyle event, was happy he fulfilled his wish of making it past the heats stage.

"That was originally my goal - to make the semi-finals and I got in there," he said.

"Once I was here I was kind of wanting more. Wanting to land my run, which I was hoping would put me through to the final.

"Just that I made it here is great but it would have been nice pass to through again."

British duo Ben Kilner and Dom Harington struggled in the heats and were eliminated, with both admitting the controversial halfpipe course played a factor in crashing out of the event.

The pair could not come through the first heat of qualifiers, with Kilner finishing 16th and Harington finishing bottom of all 20 competitors at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.

The halfpipe course has come in for some criticism of late, with the warmer weather appearing to make the track bumpy and hinder the competitors.

Kilner, whose top score was 43.50, admitted the conditions of the course had played its part in him under-performing.

"It didn't quite go how I planned," he said. "I was really trying to push it but everything got the better of me.

"I only just kept it together on the first run but the conditions are bumpy and it was tough to hang on."

His team-mate Harington made similar comments, but refused to use it as an excuse after failing to land a clean run in either of his two attempts, falling over on both occasions.

"I didn't do as well as I hoped," the 29-year-old said. "I was really nervous on my first run and my legs were like jelly.

"The second was going really well but then I hit a bump and went down and that was it - game over.

"The conditions are the same for everyone so you can't complain."

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