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SOCHI SCENE: Big shot

AP - Sports
SOCHI SCENE: Big shot
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Ty Walker of the United States waits for her score during the women's snowboard slopestyle semifinal …

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) -- Ty Walker's biggest obstacle to running in the women's snowboard semifinals wasn't the gnarly course at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, but something far scarier.

A needle. Scratch that a ''huge'' needle.

The 16-year-old who trains in Stowe, Vt., decided the only way she was going to make it up the mountain on Saturday was with a heaping helping of novocaine numbing the right heel she bruised during training. Problem is, novocaine can be administered only with a shot.

While she tried not to look, Walker couldn't help herself. Staring in horror, she bit her pillow while the needle plunged into her foot.

''It hurt so bad,'' she said.

It also worked.

Walker was able to reach the starting gate for the semifinals, though her score of 66.00 wasn't good enough to advance to the finals. If she was disappointed, it didn't show. As she pointed out, her score was 65 points higher than what she put up in Thursday's qualifier, when she leisurely slid down the course - no jumps, no rails - to try and give her leg a couple of extra days of rest.

''I should win the award for most improved, right?'' she said with a laugh. ''I mean, improving your score by 65 should be worth something.''

- By Will Graves - Twitter http://twitter.com/willgravesAP

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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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