Visually impaired alpine skier Perrine breaks through for Paralympic bronze
PyeongChang: Four years after she was disqualified from the same event for wearing an illegal visor on her helmet in Sochi, visually-impaired alpine skier Melissa Perrine has snatched a bronze medal in the women’s standing super combined.
It’s the first medal of any kind for the three-time Paralympian, leaving the 30-year-old overjoyed.
“Throughout my career I think I've experienced every high and every low that you can get up until now. And this is a massive high,” Perrine said.
“We've still got two more races to go so we can't get too caught up in this. I'll celebrate but I've got another race tomorrow.”
Perrine – who has cataracts, microphthalmia, nystagmus and glaucoma – had her family on hand in PyeonChang, including mother Denise, father Ronald and younger brother Nick.
“My family have never seen me ski before and it's the first time mum's been overseas,” Perrine said.
“It's a miracle that she can be here and it's so great they're able to see it. They've sacrificed so much and given me so much throughout my life.”
There were emotional scenes as Denise Perrine remembered all the hard times over the years.
"It goes back to when she was born with her eyes, then she burned when she was seven, and all the highs and lows of ski results,” her mother said.
"She tripped over an urn of boiling water. It ran down her back and sides but thankfully not on her face. She still has the scars.
"She's had some bad luck but it's just made her stronger.”
Perrine was guided by Christian Geiger, who also partnered Jessica Gallagher to bronze in the women’s giant slalom visually impaired event in Sochi.
“I'm just incredibly proud of her. The other day in super-G, when she was in a really bad place and I was thinking about pulling her, we had a chat and she was getting a bit emotional and I was starting to well up and I'm not a crier,” Geiger said.
In other super combined events on Tuesday, Jonty O’Callaghan crashed out in the men’s standing super combined, his day coming to an end with his super-G run.
"I'm fine. I did take a bit of a tumble [rolled for about 20 metres]. I'm sure it was nice for the cameras but it wasn't my finest moment,” he said.
"I am pretty hard on myself in terms of my results but you have to be in order to get the best out of yourself.
"I just wish I had more of a chance to show my skills but unfortunately that didn't happen today.”
Sitting skier Tori Pendergast withdrew midway during her super combined event due to a stomach complaint.