KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) Dale Begg-Smith means it this time. He’s done.
The two-time Olympic medalist in men’s moguls says he’s putting his skis up for good after failing to reach the medal round on Monday night. It marked the first time the 29-year-old failed to make it out of qualifying since January 2005, a stretch that included gold in Turin in 2006 and silver at Vancouver in 2010.
It also included a three-year sabbatical brought upon by injury before he decided last fall to make one final attempt to reach the podium in Sochi.
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Begg-Smith, who was born in Canada but competes for Australia, could never find a groove on the slushy Rosa Khutor Extreme Park course. His first run was a sloppy 19.74 that was good for only 19th, well outside the top-10 who advanced automatically.
It got even worse on his second trip. He botched the landing on his final jump, smacking face-first into the kind of chunky white stuff you’d typically find on a snow cone.
”It was a desperate move to change lines and I knew the line I was on wasn’t working for me,” he said. ”There wasn’t much I could do when I landed on my face.”
The infamously reticent Begg-Smith doesn’t regret his comeback, which appeared to be heading in the right direction after with a fifth-place finish at a meet in Finland last month. Instead, his Olympic return ended with his first early exit in nearly a decade.
Rather than disappointed, however, Begg-Smith seemed nearly relieved. He left it on the mountain. That’s all he ever really wanted.
”It was fun coming back and I’m glad I went out on my own terms,” he said. ”I messed up.”
As for what’s next, well, Begg-Smith wasn’t in the mood to be chatty about it.
”I’m an international man of mystery,” he said. ”I’m going to keep you guys guessing.”
– By Will Graves – Twitter http://twitter.com/WillGravesAP
Associated Press reporters will be 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