Sochi Paralympics: Kelly Gallagher wins Paralympic gold

By Elizabeth HudsonBBC Sport
GB's Gallagher dreamt of topping podium

Skier Kelly Gallagher has won ParalympicGB's first ever gold at the Winter Games with victory in the visually impaired Super-G in Sochi.

The 28-year-old from Bangor in County Down and her guide, Charlotte Evans, were first on the Rosa Khutor course and clocked one minute 28.72 seconds.

"It was nerve-wracking but I'm delighted with the result," Gallagher told BBC Sport.

Downhill silver medallist Jade Etherington came away with bronze.

In the sit-ski event, Britain's Anna Turney was fourth, with Germany's Anna Schaffelhuber winning her second gold of the competition.

Gallagher and Evans were keen to make amends for finishing last of six competitors in Saturday's downhill.

"Normally when we compete, even in big events like World Championships, there is nobody interested in what we are doing," said Gallagher.

"But here there has been a lot of hype and pressure, as well as expectation, and maybe we let some of that in.

"Today we just decided to ski and see what happens.

"I have to thank Charlotte for getting me to the line. We just threw ourselves at it. I prayed for the strength to ski and have fun."

Evans added: "I was yelling a lot and she wasn't doing what I told her, but finally it paid off. It didn't feel as good as we wanted to on the course, but who cares.

"We won a gold medal and it feels amazing."

Etherington, the second competitor out, recovered from hitting one of the gates for her and guide Caroline Powell to finish in 1:29.76.

But they saw Russian's Aleksandra Frantceva beat her time with 1:28.94 and take silver, while downhill champion Henrieta Farkasova of Slovakia made an error midway through her run and lost time to put her out of medal contention.

"I made a big mistake going straight into the gate and losing my pole," Etherington explained. "I got it back and Caroline told me not to slow down too much, be strong and to push on the outside of my skis.

"Winning a silver in the downhill gave me a lot of confidence."

Gallagher, who has oculocutaneous albinism, a condition with affects the pigment in her hair, skin and eyes, started skiing for the first time when she was 17 on a trip to Andorra and began working with Evans, from Kent, in late 2010, just months after finishing fourth in the Giant Slalom at the Vancouver Games with previous guide Claire Robb.

The pair communicate on their way down the slopes via bluetooth headsets as they travel at speeds of up to 100km/h.

Since linking up together, they have won silver and bronze medals in the 2011 and 2013 World Championships as well as World Cup honours.

Britain has had athletes competing in every Winter Paralympics since the first event in 1976 in Sweden and the three medals won so far surpasses the minimum target of two set by UK Sport ahead of the event.

Gallagher, Evans, Etherington and Powell will be in action again on Tuesday, along with Turney and fellow sit-skier Mick Brennan, when they compete in the super combined event.