It was a case of mixed emotions for Great Britain’s snowboarders on day seven of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games as the curtain fell on their historic competition but did so without any medals to show for their efforts.
The pioneering team of James Barnes-Miller, Ben Moore and Owen Pick will be remembered as the first to ever represent ParalympicsGB in the sport at the Paralympic Games.
However, after missing out on the podium places in snowboard cross earlier this week, their chance to secure a medal came down to three runs in the banked slalom.
It wasn’t to be for the trio with Ben Moore and James Barnes-Miller finishing seventh and tenth respectively in the SB-UL class while Owen Pick was ninth in the SB-LL2.
Pick’s opening time of 52.81 left him seventh but a fall on his second left him with it all to do and a final run of 53.26 was not enough to trouble the top of the table – gold going to Japan’s Gurimu Narita while USA’s Evan Strong won silver and Matti Suur-Hamari took bronze.
Pick said: “I’ll definitely go again for sure. I’m glad we’ve shown Britain we can do this I’m just sad we couldn’t do better.
“I’ll get over it. I’m hard on myself but I set myself a challenge. You’re told you can’t do certain things because of your injury and I want to prove them wrong.
“I haven’t got a choice whether I continue. I can’t leave it. I’m one of those people who sets themselves a goal and I haven’t achieved that goal. I’ll be back.”
While Barnes-Miller was content with his efforts at PyeongChang 2018 he doesn’t see any reason why he can’t be an unstoppable force in four years’ time.
The 28-year-old clocked 58.23 on his first run before laying down his quickest time of 57.00 on run two – a fall on his third run seeing him finish in 1:08.17 – USA’s Mike Minor dominating for gold with Austria’s Patrick Mayrhofer taking silver and Australia’s Simon Patmore bronze.
But he believes another four years on snow will see him become a dominant force in the SB-UL classification.
Barnes-Miller said: “I had five seconds to find so I had to push it. It wasn’t my day. These things happen and I’ll have to come back fighting.
“Every time I race it is positive. This is only my third season and I broke my leg in the second season. Every time compete I am learning so hopefully in another four years I will be unstoppable.
“You have to take the rough with the smooth and as long as I’m learning all the time and am getting better then I can’t ask for more than that.”
For as long as Ben Moore has been competing for Great Britain he has been carving a path for future generations.
Moore was the first British boarder to win a World Championship medal and now is one of the first to have competed at a Paralympic Games.
And, while a seventh-place finish might be the last time we see him at a Paralympic level, he is still processing the magnitude of what he has achieved.
Moore said: “I’ll definitely be snowboarding in four years’ time but a lot of athletes are calling time now at this level and maybe I will join that group.”
“Coaching is on my mind and I want the sport to progress and I’m excited to see how Great Britain does and how many people take up the sport.
“I’ve participated in the X-Games in 2015 and that’s still not settled in so I think I’ll wake up one morning and think that was one hell of a ride.”
Para Nordic Skiing
There’s not much that could ruin the mood for Scott Meenagh after he put in a display that bodes well for the future in the men’s 15km biathlon sitting at PyeongChang 2018.
In his penultimate race of competition Meenagh found his groove early at the Alpensia Biathlon Centre shooting clean on his first two trips to the range and sitting within the top ten heading into the midpoint of the race.
With windy conditions to contend with, Meenagh picked up three penalties on his third prone stage and another two on his final shoot.
That set the Scot back and he eventually crossed in a time of 58:58.1 to finish 14th – gold going to Germany’s Martin Fleig while USA’s Daniel Cnossen took silver and Canada’s Colin Cameron snatched bronze.
Meenagh said: “You couldn’t slap the smile off my face today, I’m really happy. It was on after two shoots, I really thought I was in a strong position.
“It was great, I know what I’ve got wrong today and I’m going to go and work on it but I’m really happy with that.
“I’m extremely inspired and I feel that tomorrow if I hit it with the same intent and I can push a little bit harder then there is no reason why I can’t be up there.
“I feel like I skied really well and I was in a really nice place for the first couple of shoots. The third and fourth shoots caught me out a little.
“I can’t afford to not shoot well in this field because these guys are just incredible.”
After five tough days at the Biathlon Centre only one race remains for Meenagh as he gets set to bring the curtain down on his first Paralympic Games in the men’s 7.5km cross-country on Saturday.
But there is no doubt in Meenagh’s mind that this is the first step on a journey and certainly not the final destination.
“We’ve seen a glimpse of what can be today and it’s awesome,” added Meenagh. “That’s a sight of what can be possible.
“These Games have taught me lots of lessons but they have also shown me a glimpse of the level we can be at and if we get it right on the day. We are no worse than any of these guys out here.
“We know what we are here to do and we have a lot of work to do in the next four years but I’ve seen a lot of positives here.”
Report courtesy of Paralympics GB