‘It was so cool’: Hong Kong’s Arabella Ng makes history at the Winter Olympics, finishing 56th in giant slalom
The 16-year-old is the first local athlete to compete in a snow event at the Games, with Hongkongers previously taking part in speed skating
Hong Kong’s Arabella Ng finished 56th out of the 58 skiers who completed two runs in the women’s giant slalom on Thursday, making history as the first athlete from the city to compete in a snow event at the Winter Olympics.
After several delays because of strong winds, the 16-year-old was finally able to have her chance on the slopes and had a combined time of two minutes, 50.54 seconds at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre to finish more than 30 seconds behind gold medallist, Mikaela Shiffrin, of the United States.
Ng was 63rd in her first run of 1:27.25 and improved on the second descent, clocking 1:23.29.
She finished just behind China’s Kong Fanying, who was 55th with a combined time of 2:49.88.
Ng’s next event is the women’s slalom scheduled for Friday.
“It was so cool. I had a lot of fun racing in front of these amazing people,” said Ng. “I don’t really have any expectations for tomorrow either just because I’m so young and it’s just more of an experience kind of thing.”
The fact that Ng completed the two runs was an achievement in itself with 20 skiers unable to finish while three others were disqualified.
Hong Kong have competed in the Winter Olympics since 2002 but only in the speed skating events.
Shiffrin, meanwhile, got off to a dream start in her quest to win multiple gold at the Pyeongchang Olympics by storming to victory.
The 22-year-old, who won slalom gold in Sochi four years ago, produced an explosive second run to beat Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel to the title by 0.39 seconds as Italian Federica Brignone took bronze.
Shiffrin sank to her knees and sobbed tears of joy before hugging her coaches as Italy’s Manuela Moelgg, running last of the title contenders, failed to reproduce the form that saw her pip the favourite in the morning.
“I don’t know how to explain it. It’s crazy. There’s so much emotion,” Shiffrin said. “To come to the Olympics after some tough races on the World Cup circuit and to charge like that – I risked it on the second run – it’s super-cool.”
It was a clutch win for Shiffrin after all the hype in the build-up to the Games surrounding her assault on at least four of the women’s alpine skiing’s disciplines.
It was also a long time coming after poor weather caused havoc with the schedule earlier this week.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse