Ethan Bouchard kickstarted his Olympic journey today, at the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) in Italy.

Competing in the Boy’s Slalom, Bouchard finished in 74th place overall with a time of 2:00.70 after two runs. EYOF is a multi-sport youth event that takes place in Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Italy, from the 21-28 January.

Heavy snowfall in the north-eastern Italian region, meant a change to the schedule, with the athletes competing in the more technical slalom event as their first competition; they will also take part in Giant Slalom and Super-G this week.

“I was warming up and it didn’t really hit me until the start gate, ready to go, that oh, this is the biggest race of my life,” said the 17-year-old.

The first run saw Bouchard finish in 69th place with a time of 53.15, which was 8.24 seconds behind the leader. Going into the second run, the US-born athlete with family in Skibbereen, knew that he would have to take some risks in order to improve his position, which almost paid off.

The first half of the race was quick, but a fall in the last section impacted his overall time.

“Going into the second run, to compensate for my margin, I tried pushing my limits,” he said last night.

“I knew the risks going into that bottom section and where I was meant to be. I tried to push the limits a little too much. It ended up not going my way and I ended up falling and hiking up a few gates. I am looking forward to the GS (Giant Slalom) which is coming up next, and I hope I can do damage in that.”

Later today Wicklow-born Eábha McKenna will open her EYOF campaign in the Girl’s Slalom.