Neil Simpson insists he did not wilt in the heat of expectation after being brought back down to earth with a bump in a sun-baked Beijing.

Alongside brother and guide Andrew, visually impaired skier Neil was unable to follow up his brilliant pair of medals as he finished fifth in Thursday's giant slalom.

The Banchory duo became the first men to win Olympic or Paralympic gold on snow in the Super-G on Sunday but struggled for pace on the more technically-challenging slalom course yesterday.

And Neil, who also bagged Super Combined bronze and goes for a third medal in the final slalom event on Sunday, said: “There's no expectation now - if anything, it’s less pressure because we've gone out and smashed it.

“We don’t need to get a medal – we don’t need to do anything and we’re just trying to ski our best and do as well as we can.

“We've already exceeded expectations so far - we just need to keep doing what we’re trying to do and see where that takes us.”

“It was tricky today – it was a shorter distance than we’re used to in racing from the past season.

“The first run was not ideal, we cost ourselves time but second run was better and there were positives to take.

“Our philosophy has been the same in all our races – we’re just trying to put down a good performance.”

The brothers sat sixth after the first run on the tricky giant slalom course as they stopped the clock in 1:00.81s.

They delivered a solid second of 59.64s but that wasn’t enough to haul them onto the podium as 16-year-old Austrian sensation Johannes Aiger won his fourth medal of the Games ahead of Italian Giacomo Bertagnolli and Slovak Miroslav Haraus.

Neil and Andrew now get another two well-deserved days off ahead of Sunday’s final event in the demanding slalom event.

The fake Yanqing snow has proved a challenge for several riders – many fell in Thursday’s second run – but Neil believes he has what it takes to navigate the ever-changing Chinese conditions.

“It was good snow and was grippy - it just probably hindered us a wee bit as there was too much grip on first run,” added Neil, one of over 1,000 athletes able to train full-time, access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support thanks to vital National Lottery funding.

“But it was sorted for the second and we went for it a bit more.

“It’s only going to get hotter over the next few days – we’ll have a couple of days training and hopefully the snow will hold for our slalom and be as good as this.”

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