British celebrity Heather Mills is ''over the moon'' about
the Winter Games silver medal she won yesterday near
Queenstown, a big step towards her Paralympic dream.
Mills (45), who lost part of her left leg in a road accident
in 1993, was all smiles at the Games adaptive slalom medal
ceremony last night in Queenstown's Games Village, saying it
was an amazing result for her.
The ex-wife of Beatle Sir Paul McCartney said her specialty
was downhill speed racing, not slalom, which involves skiing
around a series of flags.
This was only her third adaptive slalom event.
Athletes aiming to make the British team for the Paralympic
Games in Sochi, Russia, next year must get good results
across a range of skiing disciplines - Mills is one of eight
pushing for five British team spots.
A delighted Mills said: ''It was massively important for me,
so I'm over the moon. I never thought I would get a medal.''
Ranked 28th in the world, Mills who skis with a prosthetic
leg - clocked a combined time of 2min 9sec. Melanie Schwartz
(US) finished 10 seconds faster to win. In their class, only
Schwartz and Mills completed the course.
The pair survived a rough day on the Coronet Peak course,
with just 26 of the 42 adaptive athletes making it through
their first run.
''It was like a sheet of ice,'' Mills said.
''You just have to chuck yourself down and hope for the best.
''The start pitch is so steep, you just freefall to your
death, basically, to make the first gate. If you don't push
off fast enough, you haven't got a chance.
''It's quite scary when you're freefalling down. If you're
not right on the edge of your skis, you're out.''
Mills praised the volunteers and organisers for pulling the
event off in tough conditions. ''You could go to some
countries and it would have been called off, but everybody
here is so determined.
''We could have come all the way and the race could have been
cancelled. The crew up the hill did a brilliant job.''
Queenstown was amazing, Mills said.
She last visited the resort in summer more than 15 years ago
when on a bike tour around the country.
''It's grown a lot - just all the shops. It's beautiful.
''My coach is from Scotland and he said it's like Scotland on
Mills had little time last night to savour her success, as
she is due to race in her second Games World Cup adaptive
slalom race at Coronet Peak today.
Mills' coach, John Clark, said she skied close to her
potential in the second run.
''There aren't words to describe what these athletes are all
about. I'm relieved she's got this slalom result - because
she's rock-solid in the speed events.''
Mills said she could not wait to race in her preferred
downhill speed events - the super g and super combined World
Cup races - at Canterbury's Mt Hutt field at the end of the