A picture of concentration, staring down at the Olympic slalom course below him, Dominic Demschar steeled himself and then, with a heave on his ski poles, pushed off hard.
And then, in a blink, his race was over.
The Salt Lake City-based Australian caught a ski edge in the first few meters and straddled the first gate in men’s slalom, a rare .... is this the right word? ... feat.
“That’s actually the first time I think I’ve done that, so that’s at least a story,” he said. “The edge grabbed and went on the wrong side of the first gate. It has happened to plenty of people before. It will happen to plenty more people after me.”
Of the 106 skiers who started, 54 did not finish the first of the two runs. They included Marcel Hirscher, a double Olympic champion in giant slalom and Alpine combined at the Pyeongchang Games, which offered a measure of how tough the course and snow conditions were.
Still, to stumble at the very top takes some doing.
“I’ve never done it before, so it’s never really struck me as something that I might do. You don’t even think about that when you push out. It’s an obvious feeling when you go around the wrong side. It feels awkward. It happened, and you’re just almost in disbelief more than anything,” Demschar said.
The bright side: Being unseated by the first of the 64 turning gates meant he didn’t tire himself out.
“Sixty-four chances to do exactly what I did. I just chose the first gate to do it on,” he said. “Legs are still fresh.”