By The Associated Press
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) - Ty Walker might be the youngest member of the U.S. snowboarding team, but try telling that to her aching right heel. Or her back, for that matter.
The 16-year-old lazily glided down the slopestyle course during qualifying on Thursday, skipping the big jumps and testy rails that have caused plenty of concern among her teammates.
Walker wasn't chickening out. She was trying to be smart. Knowing the heel she bruised during a particularly bumpy landing wasn't going to get any better if she tried to grind through qualifying and knowing she was guaranteed a spot in the semifinals this weekend, Walker took a leisurely stroll down the mountain.
The next 48 hours figure to be filled with ice baths every 90 minutes, using crutches to get around and maybe even a shot to numb the pain.
Yes, a shot. Like the kind football players use. Did we mention the part where she's 16?
"I've been doing this sport awhile," Walker, of Stowe, Vt., said with a somewhat weary laugh.
And if the heel isn't much better when the semifinals start? "I'll just numb it up and give it my best," she said before limping back to the team hotel, board in hand and heel (she hopes) on the mend.
By Will Graves - Twitter http://twitter.com/willgravesap
Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu
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