By Mark Trevelyan
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Lara Gut endured a new twist in her Pyeongchang Olympic nightmare on Wednesday when four years of preparation for the women's downhill were ruined after just half a minute.
The Swiss, a bronze medalist in the same event in Sochi four years ago, was ranked as a serious medal contender but she self-destructed abruptly as she veered too far left and missed an early gate.
It was a cruel disappointment for one of the sunniest characters in the sport, after crashing out in the giant slalom and being pushed into fourth place by Czech Ester Ledecka's stunning late run in the super-G.
Gut, 26, had looked to be regaining her form this season after recovering from a crash at least year's world championships when she ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee.
She received a warm ovation as she made her way down to the finish line before gracefully submitting to interviews in English, French, German and Italian on what had gone wrong.
"I will have to wait four more years to ski an Olympic downhill. We live for those moments, we train every day for those moments, so for sure it's disappointing to end it like that," Gut said.
"But I'm healthy. I'm not like last year, that I couldn't ski any more. So tomorrow is another day."
Gut, who in 2016 became the first Swiss woman to win the overall World Cup since Vreni Schneider in 1995, has struggled to deliver her best skiing at the Olympics and missed the 2010 Games through injury.
But she indicated on Wednesday that she intends to be back.
"I hope to have another four years... You pick yourself up, that's how it is - we're athletes," she said. "One day you crumple, the next you have a new start."
(Reporting by Mark Trevelyan, editing by Ed Osmond)