Winter Paralympics: GB miss out on snowboard cross medals as wheelchair curlers win

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Winter Paralympics: Finland’s Matti Suur-Hamari wins gold in snowboard cross
Winter Paralympics on the BBC
Venue: Pyeongchang, South Korea Dates: 9-18 March Time in Pyeongchang: GMT +9
Coverage: Follow on Radio 5 live and via the BBC Sport website. Television coverage on Channel 4.

Great Britain’s first Paralympic snowboarders all missed out on medals in the snowboard cross event at the Pyeongchang Winter Games.

James Barnes-Miller lost in the quarter-finals of the SB-UL event while Ben Moore and Owen Pick were eliminated in their last 16s in South Korea.

The competition was blighted by issues with the starting gate.

Winter Paralympics: GB miss out on snowboard cross medals as wheelchair curlers win
Winter Paralympics: GB miss out on snowboard cross medals as wheelchair curlers win

Meanwhile, Great Britain’s wheelchair curlers defeated reigning Paralympics champions Canada 8-1.

Victory over Canada followed a 6-1 win against Sweden earlier in the day.

Canada have won gold at every Paralympics curling event since it was introduced in 2006, but Team GB overcame their opponents in impressive style, led by captain Aileen Neilson.

In the Sweden match, GB started strongly and after going 2-0 up after the first end, they continued to pick up scores in the next four ends without conceding and they wrapped up the win with one end still to play.

On the slopes, Barnes-Miller, born missing a hand and nicknamed Stubber, was sixth fastest in qualifying, two places ahead of Moore, while Pick, who carried the British flag at Friday’s opening ceremony, was fifth fastest in his LL2 category for athletes with lower limb impairments.

The elimination phase of the competition was delayed by a problem with the electronic starting gate and after a lengthy wait, the decision was made for a manual start using rubber bands and rope in a bungee-style system.

Barnes-Miller was beaten by eventual gold medallist Simon Patmore of Australia and had mixed feelings afterwards.

“I’m a bit gutted,” the 28-year-old told BBC Sport. “I wanted to medal but it was great racing. I’m happy with how my riding was and if I get kicked out and it was a good race then I’m happy.

“It is vital to get out in front at the top but he had the outside lane and it was a good race.”

Moore lost out to Italy’s Paolo Priolo, while Pick paid the price for a poor start against Argentina’s Carlos Javier Codina Thomatis and crashed out.

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Pick’s performance affected by problems surrounding start gates

He expressed his unhappiness with the delays which he and the other competitors had faced.

“In my early interviews I said it hadn’t played on my mind, but the more I think about it maybe it did, because it just made everything go flat,” the 26-year-old said. “It was a just a bit annoying really.

“There were talks of cancelling it and doing it another day but we wanted to race.

“It was tough and a real shame that today has gone the way it has in general. We wanted to put on a good show.

“But I didn’t snowboard as well as I can in that last race. That’s what upsets me the most – I know I can snowboard better.”

The GB trio will compete again in Friday’s banked slalom event.

Sweet success for Mentel-Spee

There were emotional scenes at the snowboarding as Dutchwoman Bibian Mentel-Spee won her second Paralympic snowboard cross title – at an event she did not believe she would compete in a couple of months ago

The 45-year-old, who won the first ever women’s snowboard Paralympic title in Sochi four years ago, found out last July that the cancer she had been battling for many years had returned.

She had radiation treatment for tumours in her neck, oesophagus and ribs until October and was then due to go for a check-up in January.

Lisa Bunschoten and Bibian Mentel-Spee
Bunschoten needed medical treatment for her facial injury but Mentel-Spee was full of concern for her rival

But in December, her doctor told her that the tumour was still present in her neck and she needed two further surgeries.

Mentel-Spee, who was first diagnosed with bone cancer in 1999 and had her leg amputated in 2001, made it through qualifying and in the final came up against 22-year-old team-mate Lisa Bunschoten.

The pair battled it out down the run and both took a tumble but Mentel-Spee got to her feet quickly to finish the race and win.

Both riders embraced at the finish with Bunschoten left bloodied after the fall.

“I looked back after the fall not knowing if Lisa was ok, but in this event as soon as you crash you need to get up quickly,” Mentel-Spee told BBC Sport

“When I saw her face bleeding at the end I felt really bad. She is my friend and I have known her for such a long time.

“The last nine months have been horrible for me but to come here and win the gold is amazing.”

Magnificent McKeever wins again

Canada’s Brian McKeever continued his dominance of the visually-impaired cross-country skiing events with his 11th Paralympic gold medal after an easy win in the 20km event.

It meant he became his nation’s most successful Winter Paralympian.

The 39-year-old, who was his nation’s flagbearer at the opening ceremony, and his guide Graham Nishikawa won by more than a minute from Yury Holub of Belarus and guide Dzmitry Budzilovich.

“It’s confirmation that we’re still competitive even at a ripe old age,” he said. “We’re not afraid to try new things in training or change it up or experiment a bit.

“We look to see what the results are from that and sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not, and then we tweak it again and that’s part of the fun. That’s what keeps us going all these years.

“It’s not just about chasing another victory, but it’s actually seeing if we can work on weaknesses and improve.”

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