We needed counselling, say Sochi pair Gallagher and Evans

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
GB's Gallagher dreamt of topping podium

Visually impaired Winter Paralympic champion Kelly Gallagher and her guide Charlotte Evans almost quit the sport two years ago because a personality clash was "tearing each other apart".

Gallagher, 28, who won Super-G gold on Monday, broke her jaw in 2011 and then lost father Patrick to cancer.

She also struggled to get on with Evans, needing a psychologist to resolve differences between the two of them.

"My mind was such a mess after a terrible year," said Gallagher.

The gold medallist, from Bangor, Northern Ireland, shattered her jaw three years ago when she crashed into a rope at high speed while skiing with Evans, with whom she had begun working in late 2010.

"I was helicoptered off a mountain, then learning my dad had cancer was so difficult for me," Gallagher said.

"On top of that, we almost needed marriage counselling because we were tearing each other apart.

"We had to change parts of our personalities and really work as a team together to be able produce something as special as we have."

Evans, 22, was an able-bodied racer herself before a knee-injury ended her hopes of an elite solo career.

She admitted to finding the transition difficult and that she can be extremely intense when competing, revealing she lost part of a tooth by screaming so loudly at Gallagher during their gold medal-winning run.

"We've been working with psychologists for the last two years and now understand each other's roles better," Evans told BBC Sport.

"I think now that's why it's working. We never had that mutual respect for one another and both wanted to be in control."

She revealed there have been times when they have wondered if they were "doing the right thing" staying in the sport, but added: "Now it's all been worth it and we have a gold medal."

Gold for Gallagher and Evans took ParalympicsGB's Sochi medal tally to three, with fellow visually impaired skier Jade Etherington and guide Caroline Powell claiming Super-G bronze and downhill silver.

It means ParalympicsGB, who received around £800,000, less than 6% of the £13.4m funding their Olympic counterparts got for Sochi, have already beaten their pre-event medal target.

Leading figures from within ParalympicsGB and the International Paralympics Committee [IPC] are calling on UK Sport to boost their investment leading into the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

IPC president Sir Philip Craven said: "It's an amazing opportunity now for the sport to go forward."

ParalympicsGB chief executive Tim Hollingsworth told BBC Radio 5 live that a failure to win a medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games may well have been a factor in their lack of funding this time.

But he added: "I will be arguing for a good look at how our Winter Paralympians can go forward to the next games with funding that will not only match these incredible performances but help move them on."

With Gallagher and Etherington each competing in three more events, there is the potential for further medals.

They will next compete in the super combined event on Tuesday.