Sandra Näslund won her first ever Winter Olympic gold medal on Thursday as she raced to victory in the women’s ski-cross final in Beijing.
But the Swede’s win took a backseat as a controversial yellow card to decide who would take bronze instead stole the limelight.
Switzerland’s Fanny Smith was left seething after missing out on third place due to a penalty she picked up in the final stage of the race.
The Swiss racer crossed the finish line with a second consecutive bronze medal after also placing third at Pyeongchang 2018. However, she was issued a yellow card after a lengthy video review adjudged her to have impeded Daniela Maier behind her in fourth place.
The card relegated Smith from third to fourth, bumping the German onto the podium.
The replay of the incident saw second place Marielle Thompson land on Smith’s skis, which forced the Swiss off balance. Smith then clashed with Maier as she spread her skis to steady herself and avoid Thompson — a domino effect from the USA racer’s landing.
🗣 "Wow… the judges have got that completely wrong, that's not what ski-cross is about."— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) February 17, 2022
🗣 "If that's the way ski-cross is going, you can forget about it."
Controversy in the women’s ski-cross final.#Beijing2022 on @BBCiPlayer https://t.co/Te9ATpMVVR #BBCOlympics pic.twitter.com/m0MdAfblw2
But while many thought it would be the silver medallist who would receive a yellow card, it was actually Smith who was served with disciplinary action and ultimately dumped from the medal positions.
The incident was being investigated over the suspicion of Smith purposely blocking Maier from overtaking in the final seconds of the race.
At the finish line, Maier herself protested the yellow card against Smith and firmly denied the 2013 world champion made contact with her.
“This was totally normal skiing,” the German said.
Maier described the ruling as “unfair” while Smith argued her movement was not done deliberately.
“But who is the f***ing judge? This is a joke! Really?!” she exclaimed as the officials ruled she had drifted too far with her ski to impede Maier.
“But this wasn’t on purpose! My ski was on the edge. Does this judge know how to ski? They have no idea.”
Despite protests from both riders, the judges did not overturn the yellow card decision and Maier completed the medal podium for the ski-cross final.