DARLINGTON cross-country skier Sarah Hale admitted she only had herself to blame after making a below-par start to her European Youth Olympic Winter Festival campaign in Romania.

The 18-year-old faded late on in her first event, the 7.5km freestyle, in Brasov and could only manage a 49th-place finish in 24:50.4minutes.

But, with the 7.5km event her least-favoured discipline and the classic and the sprint to come, Hale, who now lives in Sweden, has two chances to bounce back this week.

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She said: "The race didn't go as I had planned. I got really very tired. I was a bit tense before the race and then when I got tired during the race I just couldn't keep up my technique.

"I need to start training when I am tired, when I am finding a race easy I hold my technique, but when I get tired everything falls apart.

"So feeling like this is a good experience as I can learn from it and improve. This racing environment is different to back home."

Hale today tackles the 5km classic before Thursday's 1.2km sprint, an event that Hale impressed in at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck last year when she finished 16th.

"I love the classic, it is my favourite," she added. "I am really looking forward to that race and I hope I am going to go really well, a lot better than this last race.

"And with the sprints still to come I'm looking forward to the week ahead and taking the positives from this experience."

The British Olympic Association prepares and leads British athletes at the summer, winter and youth Olympic Games. It works in partnership with sport National Governing Bodies to enhance Olympic success and is responsible for championing the Olympic values. www.olympics.org.uk