Superb start for Irish skier


Ireland's first and only competitor in the skiing events at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Pauli Schwarzacher-Joyce, finished 21st yesterday in the first section of the Men's Combined, the slalom.

Today, weather permitting Schwarzacher-Joyce will take part in the downhill race to complete the event.

The Irishman's placing came unexpectedly, as his ranking of 487 in the world suggested there were many others in Japan would outperform him. The event itself was extremely tough, with many of the participants falling and unable to complete the difficult course.

Schwarzacher-Joyce, who prepared for the Olympics with races in the United States, was brought up in Austria, but his mother is Irish and his family retain strong connections with the country. He has a sister attending Maynooth college.

Today's downhill is the Irishman's stronger event. A good run would see him finish well up the field.

Schwarzacher-Joyce is also scheduled to compete in the Classic event, a longer version of the Downhill. All of the events, however, could be rearranged if the heavy snowfall in Nagano continues.