There were 35 DNFs in the first run of the men’s giant slalom, but Jamaica’s first-ever alpine skier at an Olympic Games was not among them.
“Fricking hell, that was hard,” declared DJ-turned-skier Benjamin Alexander, who finished his first run on the ‘Ice River’ course in 1:37.94, more than 30 seconds behind winner Marco Odermatt.
Alexander, who grew up in Northamptonshire, may have placed bottom of the pile for skiers who completed the first run at the Yanqing National Alpine Ski Centre – his placing in 54th was 15 seconds behind India’s Arif Mohd Khan in 53rd – but the sizeable number of DNFs outlined how difficult the conditions were.
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Alexander finished 46th overall after completing his second run. He turned to the cameras and said: "that was for everyone who thinks they don't belong in skiing. Get your kids into winter sports earlier. Let's change the game. Thanks. I'm exhausted - I need a massage and a beer."
A heavy blizzard wreaked havoc on Sunday, with the women’s freeski slopestyle postponed, but the men’s giant slalom persisted despite low visibility.
That made for a treacherous run, and unsurprisingly claimed dozens of DNFs, but in finishing the race Alexander - who achieved the minimum qualifying criteria at an event in Liechtenstein - was able to fulfil a “crazy dream”.
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"Hardest thing I’ve ever done. For me, it was all about finishing," Alexander told Eurosport after the race.
"Some of the best guys in the world didn’t finish today so at least I’m ahead of those guys."
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Image credit: Getty Images
Alexander had admitted he did not expect to get “anywhere near” the top skiers, saying even a time within 20 seconds would be a “job well done”.
The gap was ultimately 35 seconds and when he was asked what the game plan was, he said: "Just to have fun and to get down without injuring myself, you know my story, my first race was two years ago.
"It is impossible for me to catch up with these guys that have been racing for 20 years, and I didn’t try. I just wanted to make sure I finish and have fun with it and I’m smiling at the bottom here.
"It’s a continuation of the Cool Runnings story and that’s why I made my outfit like this as well.
"I’m so happy to be the 15th person to ever qualify for the Winter Games holding the Jamaican flag and really, despite my time I want to inspire the next generation of Jamaicans to come out here and to start skiing younger than 32."
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