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Kristi Richards’ Olympic moment at Cypress

Pemberton resident talks about losing 2010 dream by putting it all on the line



Some measure Olympic moments by the number of medals won or lost in competition.

Others measure it by smashed world records and personal best races.

But in the middle of all those Olympic moments are snapshots in time, when an athlete rises to the occasion against all odds and lays it all on the line.

Such was Kristi Richards' Olympic moment.

True, she fell in her moguls run at Cypress last week. And true, she missed the podium. But what came after that fateful fall is what she will be remembered for at the 2010 Games.

"I was going for gold," said the Pemberton resident of her run, while in Whistler last week. "I think I was going for beyond gold!"

It looked like there was every possibility of that gold medal as the 28-year- old stood in the gate at the top of the course on Feb. 13 in the pouring rain. It all came down to the next 30 seconds.

Richards was ready. She knew she was ready.

After her first jump, Richards blasted down the moguls course.

But things seemed to go terribly wrong when she lost control, lost a ski and fell.

"When I was falling I couldn't believe it," she recalled.

She slowly got back to her feet, put on her ski and took several deep breaths to collect herself as she stared down the rest of the course.

It wasn't clear what she was going to do next. The realization that her Olympic dreams were over was almost too much to bear thinking about.

At the bottom, drenched fans were cheering her on, among them her family from Summerland and her friends from Pemberton, many dressed in old one-piece ski suits.

"(Hearing the crowd) it made me that much more confidant," she said.

She thought to herself: "OK, I'm just going to stomp this."

She began skiing again, launching into the air, landing a back full to finish the race with the style and grace of an Olympian.

She finished in 20 th place, the last position in the final, because of that fall.

Looking back, Richards said she knew she had to finish the race she had envisioned.

"For me, it didn't feel like a choice."

Now as she goes through the roller coaster of emotions following her 2010 Olympic experience, Richards is sure of one thing: when she came out of that start gate she was pushing it to her limits, she wasn't settling for second place.

Perhaps, she said, she pushed it too far.

"That's something that I'm willing to live with.

"I tried my best."

It felt good, she added, to be back in Whistler where she feels comfortable. And she's looking forward to getting back to her home in Pemberton after the Games, the place she calls "her little sanctuary."

"I love Pemberton," she said. "It's the perfect place."

It's the perfect place for a moguls skier who trains from April to the end of August in Whistler.

And so, as she struggles with accepting the disappointment of her race, Richards said the feedback from Canadians has been amazing. They've told her how proud they are of her, how her run and her grace under the immense pressure were truly inspirational.

Her goal in sport, she said, is to inspire.

"It looks like I did that," she said.

That is some consolation as she looks ahead to the future, her mind already thinking about the World Cup in Deer Valley next year.



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