For Teresa Stadlober, far right, the mass start was the easy part. (Odd Andersen/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

Of all the awful unfortunate ways to fail to medal in the Olympics, the fate that befell Austrian cross-country skier Teresa Stadlober has to rank right up there. But at least her dad still loves her.

Stadlober was chugging along and seemingly headed for the silver medal with about 7 kilometers left in the 30-kilometer race Sunday, when an inexplicable brain freeze caused her to zig, going to the right, while all the other skiers zagged. She quickly realized her mistake but not before she had landed in eighth place.

Whether in cross-country running or skiing, it can happen, but still.

“I don’t know, I really don’t know,” Stadlober, who finished ninth, told the Associated Press. “I took the wrong way — and I did this twice. The second time I wasn’t sure anymore. I had a blackout. I don’t know why I took the wrong way.”

In Stadlober’s defense she trailed Marit Bjoergen by quite a distance and couldn’t simply follow the leader.

“For us, it’s unbelievable,” Austrian sports director Markus Gandler said, uttering words that weren’t going to make Stadlober feel any better. “On this downhill there are two sides, the right course and the left course. The right course is the first loop and the left course in the second loop. The second loop is going into the finish area.”

At least her dad was at the finish line to do what dads do whether their kids win, lose or mess up.

“I cried,” she said. “He just said, ‘It was not your day today.’ But when you want to win a medal you have to know the track.”

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