Aussies miss early medals at Paralympics

Warren Barnsley
Australian Paralympic skier Tori Pendergast has missed out on a downhill medal in PyeongChang

Australian alpine skier Tori Pendergast has failed to make the most of a strong start to drop out of medal contention on the opening day of the Winter Paralympics.

Pendergast was one of six Australians to finish off the podium in PyeongChang on Saturday as the Games began with the downhill discipline.

The 27-year-old was fourth in the women's sitting class, losing control in the final stages after holding a medal position for most of her run.

After waiting for five minutes at the top of the course due to a crash on the previous run, she crossed the line 10.88 seconds (factored) behind German gold medallist Anna Schaffelhuber.

Three of the seven-strong sitting field failed to finish.

"I just lost my balance through that triple," Pendergast said.

"It was a bit bumpy through that area and if you lose your edge on a sits-ski it's quite hard to recover from it.

"I guess I'm just happy to get this one out of the way given it's the one I'm most nervous about, especially with the speed.

"I'll take the good bits from this and come into the super-G tomorrow.

"That does hurt to know it was so close. But it's just one of the risks of the sport."

Melissa Perrine and sighted guide Christian Geiger finished fifth in the vision-impaired, 5.68 sec behind gold-medal winner Henrieta Farkasova of Slovakia.

The 30-year-old Perrine, in her third Games, will compete in four more events, with downhill her least favoured.

But she was disappointed considering strong lead-up form which had seen her win medals in her last four para-World Cup events.

"I had a couple of key mistakes in areas which cost me the podium," she said.

"I don't think any athlete can shake off a disappointment like this easily but I can give myself half an hour to feel absolutely rat s***.

"Then I focus on the things I did well, I focus on my mistakes and then I put it aside and focus on tomorrow (super-G)."

Sam Tait made a strong Paralympics debut in the men's seated, finishing 11th and 4.45 sec off the pace while teammate Mark Soyer cited equipment failure after crashing in the opening stages of his run.

"I just wanted to lay down a good track today to try and relax myself for the rest of the week," Tait said.

"I'm stoked with that. I came in thinking top 15. To get 11th, that's unreal. I'm happy with that.

Jonty O'Callaghan was 22nd in the men's standing while three-time Paralympian Mitch Gourley missed a gate and was disqualified.