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Thomas Westgaard finishes 60th as Irish skier makes Winter Olympics debut

The Norway-born skier finished 16 minutes off first-place on Sunday morning in South Korea.

DVvqZIfVoAA_F0Y Thomas Westgaard in action on Sunday.

THOMAS MALONEY WESTGAARD made a debut finish of 60th place in the Men’s 15km +15km cross-country skiathlon at the Winter Olympics on Sunday.

The Norway-born skier was making his debut at the Winter Olympics and clocked a time of 1:32:34.2, finishing 16 minutes behind winner Simen Hegstad Krueger.

Although finding his bow more difficult than anticipated, the 22-year-old — who qualifies for Team Ireland through his Galway-born mother — admitted the moment had been one of immense pride.

“Despite that I didn’t feel 100 per cent I’m extremely proud to get my Olympic debut for Ireland,” he said speaking afterwards.

“It’s a big honour. I dreamed about this since I was 10 so this was a big day for me.

“The last 10k was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, it was just horrendous,” he added. “But when you are able to finish in the Olympic spirit you just have to be proud.

“It was really windy so it was so important to be in a group to block the wind and unfortunately I wasn’t able to be in group for the last 15km so I had to struggle in my own battle.

“In that third lap I just gave it everything. I was seeing stars. It was one of the most gruelling experiences I ever had.”

Westgaard has qualified for three more events at this year’s Winter Olympics, but said a recent illness had weakened him, stating that after a medical review he would decide whether he would take part in all three.

He is scheduled to take part in Tuesday’s Men’s Individual Sprint Classic, Friday’s Men’s 15km Free and the Men’s 50km Mass Start Classic on 24 February.

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Elsewhere in South Korea,  Clare skier Patrick McMillan saw his Winter Olympics debut put on hold after winds of up to 45mph forced the organisers to postpone the men’s Downhill.

The race has been rescheduled to Thursday and, as a result, the men’s Super-G – which is McMillan’s other event – has been moved to Friday 16 February, which means he will now be racing on consecutive days.

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