By Peter Douglas
Don Valley athlete Casey Wright has ticked off a major goal in making her Winter Olympics debut at PyeongChang, though she failed to qualify for the sprint classic quarter final.
In what has been described as difficult conditions, Wright, 23, performed admirably in the qualifying race on Tuesday 13 February (local time), striving home in 3:49.80s to finish in 63rd position.
The former Mount Lilydale Mercy College student finished outside the qualifying time of 3:25.80s, with Stina Nilsson from Sweden taking out first position in 3:08.74s.
Wright’s Australian teammates also put in a strong showing, with Jessica Yeaton finishing in 48th position and Aimee Watson in 58th position.
Despite failing to qualify, Wright tole the Australian Olympics Commission website she was proud of her efforts.
“It was OK; it wasn’t quite as fast as I wanted but I definitely gained a lot of experience skiing with all these amazing girls,” Wright said.
“It’s pretty special to now be an Olympian. It’s been at the top of my goal list for quite a few years now, so I’m stoked. I can put a big tick next to that one.”
European cross-country skiers traditionally dominate the gruelling sport, which was the case in the qualifying event, with the first three positions going to European competitors.
To put Wright’s efforts into perspective, at PyeongChang teammate Barbara Jezersek became only the fourth Australian cross-country skier to finish between 30 and 40 in an individual Olympic event.
Jezersek placed 39th in the women’s 30km skiathlon.
Wright’s journey has been nothing short of incredible, after basing herself in Anchorage, Alaska, where she is working towards a degree in Health Science at the University of Alaska.
For Watson and Yeaton, they will now compete with Jezersek in Day 6 of the competition in the women’s 10km free event.