Slovakian picks up 1st gold of Games


Henrieta Farkasova of Slovakia, rear, competes in the women’s downhill for visually impaired with her guide at the Pyeongchang Paralympics on Friday.

AFPPYEONGCHANG (AFP-Jiji) — Slovakian skier Henrieta Farkasova won the first gold medal of the Pyeongchang Paralympics on Saturday and the United States clinched a hat trick of victories as sporting action got under way at Games marked by a rapid inter-Korean thaw.

Medals were up for grabs in alpine skiing and biathlon. Russian athletes, competing under a neutral flag after a mass doping scandal, clinched two golds while France also won two.

The Paralympics opened Friday with a glittering ceremony that mixed spectacular light shows and fireworks with traditional Korean performances and modern pop music.

North Korea was in focus as the country’s first two athletes to ever compete at a Winter Paralympics paraded into the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium under their own country’s flag.

It was the latest stage of a detente on the Korean peninsula that began at last month’s Winter Olympics, and culminated with this week’s announcement that U.S. President Donald Trump had agreed to meet the North’s leader Kim Jong Un.

Farkasova skied to victory in the women’s vision-impaired downhill category, accompanied by her guide Natalia Subrtova.

She completed the course at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre in 1 minute 29.72 seconds, beating second-placed Millie Knight of Britain and her guide Brett Wild by 0.86 seconds.

It was Farkasova’s sixth Paralympic gold, and she hailed her victory as “great, amazing.”

“Hopefully we can inspire through our achievements and [show] others to strive and do their best,” she said.Speech

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