A super combination

Laughing at butterflies drinking tea while doing yoga. That is the secret to Paralympic success, according to Menna Fitzpatrick after she claimed women’s VI super-combined silver at PyeongChang 2018.

The teenager along with guide Jennifer Kehoe had already won super-G bronze on Sunday and produced two brilliant runs to add a silver medal to their collection at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre on Tuesday.

And, for those wondering what goes through the heads of elite athletes when the nerves kick in and the eyes of the world are on you, Fitzpatrick has a very simple mantra.

“In the start gate just before we go out, when the nerves start increasing, I think about butterflies that are drinking tea while doing yoga,” said Fitzpatrick after she clocked a combined time of 2:29.00.

“It came from three different techniques of calming you down,” added Kehoe.

“One is having butterflies fly around in your stomach, the next is the tea cup and thinking calm under pressure and the third is yogic breathing.

“On the super-G day, Menna tried to think of all three which got a bit confusing, it made her laugh and anything that does that makes her ski better, it makes her relaxed and so now we have that analogy.”

Menna flying at super-G

A second trip to the podium

The pair produced a super-G time of 1:31.49 in the day’s opening session to give them second place behind Slovakia’s Henrieta Farkasova and Natalia Subrtova, while Millie Knight and Brett Wild occupied third and Kelly Gallagher and Gary Smith sat seventh – the space they would hold at the end of competition.

The slalom wasn’t as kind to Knight and Wild as they clocked 58.10 while Australia’s Melissa Perrine produced a breath-taking run of 55.32 which proved enough for her to leapfrog the pair and leave them in an agonising fourth.

For Fitzpatrick and Kehoe however it was their slalom run that cemented their silver with an impressive 57.51 ensuring their second trip to the podium.

Fitzpatrick: “I need to take a deep breath!

A fabulous day

“I need to take a deep breath! It feels absolutely amazing, I’m over the moon,” Fitzpatrick added.

“The communication was there, we had a really good warm-up, the sun was shining – everything came together and it’s a fabulous day.

“Slalom is always a tricky one to get into after doing speed races, the skis feel so short but it was just an amazing day, the course was really good and we’ve still got the slalom to come which is good.

“You’re always going to be thinking about more races to come, we now have two medals which we’re delighted with so we’re just going to give it our all.”

In the men’s super-combined standing event James Whitley returned to the slopes and found himself in 13th place after the first run.

However a solid slalom time of 50.07 saw him jump two places to 11th in the final standings.

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