PYEONGCHANG, Republic of Korea — Nigel Davis and Tamra Mitchell broke new ground for Jamaica yesterday when they won two silver medals in ice figureskating here at the Special Olympic World Winter Games.
Davis, who has previously won gold in speed skating, was confident and expressive during his ice dance routine at the Yongpyong Dome ice rink (skating surface), but had to settle for second place behind the small-framed Yuktotorah Ho of Hong Kong in the Singles Male Level One category.
Mitchell and Davis then combined to win Jamaica's second silver medal at the Championships when they were bested by the Hong Kong connection of Sze Hou Ho and Ka Man Ng in the Teams Level One segment.
Mitchell, though a picture of composure in her dance patterns, narrowly missed out on bronze and had to settle for fourth place ahead of United States' Kelly Bradshaw (fifth) in Singles Female Level One action. Canadians Sara McKelvie and Meg Ohsada took respective gold and silver medals, while Lingkuen Cheung won bronze.
Jamaican skating coach Jacqueline Bennett expressed joy and relief with the historic accomplishment in the event and praised both athletes for the improvement they showed yesterday.
"I saw improvement today (yesterday) and I'm really proud of them because there is no ice in Jamaica to practice on. At first the (team) chemistry and synergy wasn't there (but) we sat down and talked about it and you could see they improved.
"The strides were longer and they moved together better. They made mistakes by possibly not listening to the music and didn't quite follow the expected pattern at the corner as it is outlined", she said.
She explained that both also made costly errors in the respective individual categories.
“I was pleased with Tamra's performance, though she came fourth. The patterns could have been executed better and I think the cross-over (steps) on the corners could have been better. Perhaps she could have placed higher but she did what she could do and I'm fine with that.
“Nigel could have done better and won gold, no doubt about that. In the first pattern he did the steps well but then made mistakes on the second pattern and was penalised for that,” Bennett said.
After barely missing out on gold in the country's first ever participation in the artistic skating event, Bennett is anxious to make another attempt though she conceded that originally she was not in agreement when Special Olympic Jamaica executive director Lorna Bell first came with the idea
“Yes, I would do it again! At first I thought this was totally impossible and that Mrs Bell was crazy," she said. “After doing the research, I realised that if you follow the guidelines and follow the patterns you will be okay. If we could get more practice on ice we would be better.”
Meanwhile, Jamaica's floor hockey team will feature in the gold medal match tomorrow (Tue) at midday at the Gangneung Sports Centre. The Jamaicans await the winner of today's clash between Hungary and Trinidad & Tobago.
The team will be without Andrew Hinds, who suffered a dislocated acromio-clavicular joint (shoulder injury) yesterday. There are also concerns over the fitness of marquee defender Omar Brown, who has a bruised right ankle bone.