KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – They wanted to call themselves Olympians. Now, some of them have the bumps and bruises to prove it.
Not everyone in the 109-skier giant slalom race on Wednesday pushed out of the starting gate with the intention of winning. Some just wanted to make it down the tricky course in one piece.
Most did. Some didn't.
There were plenty of spills and tumbles along the course as skiers from nations not really known for skiing tried their luck in a race won by Ted Ligety of the United States. In all, 26 competitors didn't finish the first of two runs — a list that also included some big names, like Didier Defago of Switzerland.
A skier from Spain lost both skis in a wipeout. Another from South Korea was so exhausted after finishing that he crashed directly into a protective bumper. And one from Andorra had to be carried off the hill in a stretcher.
For Himanshu Thakur of India, though, time didn't really matter. He wasn't bothered by finishing 52.26 seconds behind Ligety's winning time, just elated at the chance to take the course.
"It's a good thing," Thakur said of lower-ranked skiers being included in this Olympic giant slalom. "Because I'm a skier. So it's a good thing for me."
— By Pat Graham — Twitter http://twitter.com/pgraham34
Associated Press reporters are filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu