Ashley Farquharson celebrates after her final women's singles luge run 4 at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 8, 2022 in Yanqing, China.
As she stepped off the ice Tuesday at the National Sliding Centre northwest of Beijing, Ashley Farquharson looked directly into the TV camera and flashed a thumbs-up.
“Only took me four runs to get there,” Farquharson said.
The 22-year-old first-time U.S. Olympian obviously knew that her fourth and final run in the women’s luge competition would vault her into first place and leave her — at least temporarily — standing in the leader’s box.
Farquharson, who was fourth in the start order, was eventually bumped out of the box but finished a strong 12th with a combined time of 3 minutes, 56.407 seconds in her Olympic debut.
“It wasn’t my best result. It wasn’t my worst result,” Farquharson said. “It was definitely the most fun I’ve ever had racing. It was incredible. I can’t wait for the next one.”
Natalie Geisenberger of Germany, already considered by many to be the greatest luger ever, cemented her legacy with a third consecutive Olympic gold medal, making her the first woman to three-peat in the sport. Her teammate, Anna Berreiter, claimed the silver medal, and the Russian Olympic Committee’s Tatyana Ivanova took home the bronze medal.
In the Olympics luge athletes race four times over two days. Farquharson came into the final day of racing in 18th place and improved one spot during her third run of the competition. Her American teammates Summer Britcher and Emily Sweeney, who had both crashed on Monday, were in 23rd and 26th place after the third run and were eliminated, as only the top 20 sliders qualified for the fourth and final run.
“Emily and Summer are amazing,” Farquharson said. “If anything, they took the pressure off. It may have been a tough day yesterday, but we all went into today with a fresh mindset, clear brains, and we all did our best today.”
The Beijing Winter Games were Britcher’s third and Sweeney’s second.
A Park City, Utah, resident, Farquharson got faster as the competition unfolded. After placing 26th in the first run, she was eighth in each of the next two runs, and seventh in the last.
“It just cements in my brain that I slide my best when I relax and (I’m) having fun,” Farquharson said. “It’s easy to lose that. You just have to let it go. It’s just luge.”
She finished her final run in an impressive 58.643 seconds on a course that had challenged the most seasoned competitors.
“It really speaks to the speed that was there the whole time,” she said. “I just couldn’t find it.”
Farquharson said she had been putting too much pressure on herself during previous runs.
“For the first time, I found myself worried about what other people were thinking of my results, and that’s not really happened to me before,” she said. “I had that bad first run, and my mom was like, ‘It was so fun to watch you.’ What am I worried about?”
Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Olympic Games Beijing 2022? Visit TeamUSA.org/Beijing-2022-Olympic-Games to view the competition schedule, medal table and results.