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Florence Bell set for Sochi giant slalom

Updated: Monday, 17 Feb 2014 19:16 | Comments

Florence Bell will race the giant slalom in Sochi
Florence Bell will race the giant slalom in Sochi

Florence Bell will become the fourth Irish athlete in action at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi tomorrow as the 17-year-old competes in the women’s giant slalom (5.30am Irish time).

Competitors will take part in two runs with the winner being the racer with the fastest aggregate time of both. Bell will be one of the later starters to take to the course.

A medium speed event, giant slalom mixes the sweeping bends of the downhill with the tight technical turns of slalom skiing and the medal places are expected to be dominated by Sweden, Austria and the United States.

Bell initially represented Britain at junior level, however, in 2011 she and her older sister Victoria declared for Ireland. Both were in contention for the same spot on the Ireland team in Sochi.

In 2012 Florence became Ireland's only representative at the Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria where she finished in 24th place in the girl’s slalom, which remains the best result for an Irish female competitor in any Olympic Alpine skiing race.

Bell follows in the footsteps of Patrick-Paul Schwarzacher Joyce, Tamsen McGarry, Thomas Foley, Kirsten McGarry and Shane O’Connor who previously represented Ireland in Alpine Skiing at the Winter Olympics.

Ireland's best result overall was achieved in 1998 when Schwarzacher Joyce was 15th in the men’s combined event, albeit over 30 seconds behind the eventual winner.

Bell is also expected to take part in the women’s slalom on Friday, while Conor Lyne will compete in the men’s giant slalom on Wednesday.

Sochi 2014 has been a mixed bag for the Irish team thus far.

Snowboarder Seamus O’Connor impressed in making the semi-final of the halfpipe event. However, Sean Greenwood was disappointing, as he failed to make the final run of the skeleton event following a dramatic crash on his second run.

Jan Rossiter finished 82nd in the men’s 15km cross country race.

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