Sochi, Russia Eliza Outtrim was as calm as she had been in at least a month.
With the bright glow of the Olympics, the steep Rosa Khutor Extreme Park course and a heavily pro-Russian crowd, Outtrim didn’t mind.
2014 Winter Olympics
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Competing in her first event in her first Olympics?
Easy, compared to the hair-pulling, nerve-wracking, sleepless-night fest she went through just to get here.
Unsure she’d make it to Sochi just two weeks ago, Outtrim put down her run early in the competition, finishing fourth Thursday in the preliminaries of the women’s moguls event.
Teammate Hannah Kearney was first, with Canadian sisters Chloe and Justine Dufour-Lapointe second and third.
“Strangely enough, I had less jitters than other times,” Outtrim said. “No. 1, I like this course, so I was training well. That gave me confidence to lay down the run.”
First out of the gate in the preliminaries, on a slower course, Outtrim was able to put down a solid run.
Thursday’s event took the top 10 skiers and advanced them directly to Saturday’s finals.
Saturday will include another preliminary event during which 10 more of the 20 skiers who didn’t advance to the finals will have a chance to do so.
For Outtrim, though, the competition had less pressure. She battled all World Cup season to earn her spot. The day after the final World Cup, she had accepted the possibility she was not going to the Olympics. A day later, she realized she had the format wrong and still was a possibility as a discretionary pick.
Thursday, she proved her inclusion could pay dividends for the U.S.
The course in Russia is one of the steepest in the world, and at first glance, it favored technical, powerful skiers.
Outtrim said her technical ability is her strongest suit and that skiing on the course immediately gave her confidence.
“I like the firmness of the course, and I like the size of the moguls,” she said. “They’re bigger. They’re what moguls should be.”
Outtrim plans to train Friday and potentially walk in the opening ceremonies.
She said Thursday’s result was a good sign, but she knows she has a better run in her.
“It’s awesome going into Saturday, but I have so much more to give,” she said. “I can ski way better than I did” Thursday.
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