Sochi Winter Paralympics: No change of fortune for Melissa Perrine after Visorgate

The snow finally arrived at the Sochi Winter Paralympics, with a heavy dumping overnight transforming the barren landscape around the Rosa Khotar alpine centre, but the change of scenery did nothing for the fortunes of Australian vision-impaired skier Melissa Perrine whose Games from hell continued in the slalom.

Skiing the day after Visorgate – when the Australian was disqualified from the super-combined competition for using an illegal visor that was taped to her helmet to minimise the glare of the lights and water on her goggles, which completely blind her – Perrine had hoped to finally get some reward from a disappointing campaign.

However, her run lasted just a few moments after starting when she lost a ski and fell over. Perrine had come into Sochi as a genuine medal contender in all five of her events, in particular the speed disciplines.

But she had a disappointing run in the downhill, finishing fourth and did not finish the Super-G after she missed a gate. The giant slalom on Sunday will now be her last chance.

Perrine, speaking on Wednesday, said the decision by herself and guide Andy Bor for her to wear the visor was not an attempt to cheat but a "stupid mistake" brought about because they had not sought clarification about the rules.

Australian Paralympic Committee chief executive Jason Hellwig on Tuesday night called the situation where no one on the team, including head coach Steve Graham, who was not aware that Perrine was wearing the visor, assistant coach Michael Milton, the athletes and technical officials seemed to have a clear understanding of the rules as "mind-numbingly dumb mistake".

"I was disappointed. I was really, really disappointed," said Perrine of her disqualification. "The mistake was made. It was yesterday, there is nothing I can do about it now, nothing I can do to change it so I'm just trying to keep focus. It's a tough one but it is what it is.

"It wasn't a malicious intent at all. It was a completely innocent mistake, it was an oversight, and we've paid the price for that and everyone on the team really just wants to move on."

The world championships medallist said the episode would not dampen her enthusiasm for skiing.

"I love this sport so much, I love racing, I love skiing, I love the mountain lifestyle, I'm going to be around for a while to come yet," she said.

Perrine also insisted that while she has not achieved the expected results, she had been satisfied with the way she was skiing.

"I'm not skiing poorly, I'm skiing well, my times are good and I'm right in there. It's just that a few mistakes have cost me dearly," she said.

"In Vancouver [2010 Winter Games] I wasn't proud of my skiing performance. Here I'm proud of what I've done on the snow so I think I've achieved what I wanted to so far coming into these games. I've always said I didn't care if I came first or sixth and it still doesn't bother me.

"A result would be great, I'm not going to lie, it would be awesome to have a Paralympics medal but it doesn't matter in the end as long as I know im skiing well out there. That's important to me."

As for the slalom run, Perrine said it was all part of the course. "I just hit a couple of bumps up there, the ski got caught and I just went over the front," she said. "It happens, it's slalom."

The story Sochi Winter Paralympics: No change of fortune for Melissa Perrine after Visorgate first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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