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Maloney Westgård survives Winter Olympics 'paincave' after Gower is forced to wait

Team Ireland’s campaign in Beijing kicked off this morning.

Thomas Maloney Westgård competing this morning.
Thomas Maloney Westgård competing this morning.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

Updated Feb 6th 2022, 12:00 PM

JACK GOWER WILL have to wait to make his Winter Olympics debut.

Gower was due to be the first Irish athlete to experience Beijing 2022 by competing in the men’s downhill skiing this morning.

However, strong winds have forced organisers to postpone the event “in the best interest of safety and fairness” until tomorrow (4am Irish time), with Gower set to be the 37th starter.

As a result, the responsibility to kick off Ireland’s campaign fell to Thomas Maloney Westgård, who finished in 43rd place in the men’s cross-country skiathlon.

Maloney Westgård was braced for “a long hour in the paincave”, describing the 15km + 15km course in Zhangjiakou as “one of the most gruelling tracks I have ever skied in”.

As one of 70 competitors in the event, he posted a time of one hour, 25 minutes and 29.8 seconds, which left him nine minutes and 20 seconds behind the winner, Alexander Bolshunov of the Russian Olympic Committee.

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The silver medal went to Denis Spitsov, Bolhusnov’s compatriot, while Iivo Niskanen of Finland won the bronze.

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