Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

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What Was She Thinking? Why U.S. Snowboarder Ty Walker Finished Last

The 16-year-old made no attempts at executing any tricks. But she had a plan.

By Emily Feldman
|  Thursday, Feb 6, 2014  |  Updated 4:21 PM PDT
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SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 06: Ty Walker of the USA competes in the Ladies Snowboard Slopestyle Qualifying at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 6, 2014 in Sochi, Russia (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

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Ty Walker, the youngest member of the U.S. snowboarding team, finished dead last in a qualifier event the first day of Olympic competition — scoring just a single point out of 100. 

The 16-year-old from Vermont tamely made her way down the slopestyle course, avoiding rails and pipes athletes are supposed to use to flaunt their talent for judges. She opted out of a second run, ending the day with a score of 1.00, more than 80 points behind her teammates Jamie Anderson and Karly Shorr.

Both Anderson and Shorr secured a spot in the finals. It appears Walker has a plan that could put her in contention to join them.

Earlier in the week, the teen suffered nasty bumps and bruises testing out the course and decided to take it easy until Saturday's semi-finals when her performance really counts. All athletes who take at least one of two runs at qualifiers are permitted to advance to the semi-finals, where they have one more shot at advancing to the medal round.

"I've been doing this sport awhile," Walker told The Associated Press on Thursday. She added that if her bruised heel doesn't feel better by Saturday, "I'll just numb it up and give it my best."

Walker documented her injuries and hinted at her plan of attack on her blog.

On Monday, she showcased a softball-sized bruise on her knee that she got after she "taco-ed the donkey rail" on her first feature. On her second attempt she smashed her elbow. "It wasn't a big deal though," she wrote. "I kept riding."

She noted that the course was big and that many girls were not hitting the jumps, but that she was confident workers would "make the necessary changes to the course" and she could "turn it up the next day."

But she continued to get bumped around. There was a "penguin slide" a "firecracker belly slide," and then a 20-foot fall that left her right heel bruised and convinced her "to call it a day."

On Wednesday, she explained her strategy for competing in qualifiers in her less-than-perfect condition: "As of right now, the plan for tomorrow is to get an injection with a numbing agent in the morning and use the day for more practice," she wrote. "I’ll take my runs but keep it mellow, and then work on something better into the weekend that will get me to finals on Sunday."

She noted that while the top four get a direct ticket to finals, everyone else will have another shot at semi-finals. 

"I made it this far and I’m confident enough in my riding to know that I have the ability to push through and give it my all," she wrote. "Here’s to looking forward and making the most out of the cards in my hand."

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