Team GB claimed its first medal of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games as Dom Parsons won men’s skeleton bronze. The success at the Olympic Sliding Centre could continue tomorrow too with Lizzy Yarnold and Laura Deas lying in third and fourth at the halfway stage of the women’s event.
- Dom Parsons is the first British male to win an Olympic skeleton medal in 70 years
- Olympic champion Lizzy Yarnold is just one tenth of a second behind leader Jacqueline Loelling after two of four heats of the women’s skeleton competition with teammate Laura Deas just a further seven hundreths back in fourth.
- Kyle Smith’s rink suffer an 8-6 defeat to Sweden in the men’s curling competition to leave them third in the standings with two wins and two losses.
- Andrew Musgrave is the highest finishing Brit in the men’s 15km free cross-country race, placing 28th while Andrew Young is 57th and Callum Smith 75th.
- Four-time Olympian Zoe Gillings-Brier reaches the quarter-finals of the women’s snowboard cross competition.
- Alpine skier Charlie Guest finishes 33rd in the rearranged women’s slalom with teammate Alex Tilley failing to finish the first run.
Dom Parsons defied the odds to secure Team GB’s first medal of PyeongChang 2018.
The Brit had not won a major medal in five years and arrived in Korea nursing an abductor muscle injury. And yet he conjured up the goods when it mattered most to win Britain’s first male Olympic skeleton medal since 1948.
Parsons was rewarded for four consistent runs down the Olympic Sliding Centre course to edge out Martins Dukurs, the silver medallist in 2014, by just over a tenth of a second.
Parsons, who had moved up into bronze medal position after the third run today,then fell behind Nikita Tregubov in the fourth and final heat before uncharacteristic errors from Dukurs handed the 30-year-old Brit a dramatic medal.
Parsons was only two hundredths of a second off Tregubov’s silver medal winning time while Korean World Cup champion Yungbin Sun banked an expected gold for the host nation.
“That was a bit of a rollercoaster and it hasn’t really sunk in yet. I thought I’d lost it after that fourth run, it felt like it’d had gone,” he said.
“But Martins Dukurs has made some more mistakes and he’s the last person I’d expect that from.
“I was obsessed with the sport from the first moment, I just loved doing it, I just didn’t know how good I was going to be.”
Meanwhile, teammate Jerry Rice claimed he’d be looking to continue Britain’s skeleton tradition in Beijing after career best tenth place finish.
He said: “It’s amazing. He made us all nervous right at the end there but he deserves it. Dom finished tenth in Sochi four years ago. I see myself on that same trajectory and it definitely gives me an extra drive.”
Olympic champion Lizzy Yarnold and teammate Laura Deas are well set to continue Team GB’s skeleton success in PyeongChang, sitting third and fourth fastest at the half-way stage.
Yarnold, seeking to become the first British athlete to retain a winter Olympic title, clocked a track record 51.66 on her opening run to top the timing sheets – with Deas sixth fastest.
The latter improved on that in the second run to move up to fourth, 0.17 behind leader Jacqueline Loelling, while Yarnold dropped down to third overall – although she is only one tenth of a second off gold.
And Yarnold, who appeared to be suffering from dizziness after the first run, insisted she was unconcerned by the issue.
“I think with the cold and the dust I’ve had a sore throat for about a week now and a bit of build up in my sinuses. I think I forgot to breath going down the run,” she said.
“So for the second run I just really relaxed into the race and made sure I was breathing properly.
“It’s a great position being in third, especially with Laura being in fourth and having her so close. We’ll go back and have a cup of tea and a chat about what we can do to make sure we’re both on the podium
“Getting three British Olympic skeleton medals here is just more than we could ever have dreamed of. But we did dream of it and we challenged ourselves and pushed ourselves.”
A slight error on her first run initially cost Deas a higher initial placing but she made up for it on the second run to put the pressure on her teammate and the rest of the field.
“To be sitting less than a tenth of a second outside a medal, I’m so pleased with that,” she said.
“I had the second fastest time on that run and it’s kept me in contention, which is great.”
Kyle Smith insists his rink are learning all the time after they slipped up against Sweden in their latest curling round robin game.
The Brits had been 5-3 up after five ends but a score of three in the very next end pulled the momentum back for Sweden.
Smith’s rink were unable to get back in front and eventually went down 8-6, unable to exact revenge on the opponents for last year’s European Championship final defeat to the same team.
The result leaves them third in the round robin stages with two wins and two defeats – Canada and Sweden are the only unbeaten teams.
“I thought we started really well and we built a good lead actually, a two-point lead but those guys are so good at creating situations where they can score multiple points,” said Smith.
“We made a couple of mistakes and of course the game is suddenly tied again so there’s definitely a couple of shots I’d want back – the first one in the sixth I’d like back.
“But I think we’ve been getting stronger with each game that’s gone past. There’s just a few things that we need to change and just tighten up on in some moments.
“But there’s positives to take, there’s a long way to go and we’ve played arguably three of the best teams here so two and two, it could be a lot better but it could be a lot worse as well.”
Coach Viktor Kjell added: “It was a game of two halves, definitely. I think we started really good and I think we actually outplayed them in the first five ends.
“It felt like we had very good control of the game and the guys definitely in the first five ends it’s the best they’ve played this week.
“A couple of errors from our side in the sixth end and they played really well and against any top team and especially against Niklas [Edin] any mistakes you know they’re going to take their chances and unfortunately they did.”
Andrew Musgrave admitted he was at a loss to explain his performance after he fell short of his rising expectation levels in the 15km freestyle event.
The cross-country skier was high on confidence after his seventh place in Sunday’s skiathlon.
However he was off the pace on Friday, coming home in 28th, over two minutes behind gold medallist Dario Cologna.
“That was pretty shocking, I don’t know what happened,” he said.
“It was the most important race I’ve ever done. I’m just gutted, this was the race that I’ve been targeting
“I knew on a good day I could be here fighting for a medal but I never thought I’d go as slow as that. It was a struggle from start to finish.”
Teammates Andrew Young and Callum Smith were also in action in the race, finishing 57th and 75th respectively.
“I had better legs in my head than I did in reality and I was always chasing the pace,” said Young.
“It’s experience in the bag, I suppose. These results do not show my full potential.”
Smith added: “That wasn’t my day. I was going okay on the first lap but I just went backwards and I didn’t have the same energy that I did in the skiathlon and that was really heavy going.”
There were mixed emotions for Zoe Gillings-Brier as she finally conquered the PyeongChang snowboard cross course but failed to progress past the quarter-finals.
The four-time Olympian had struggled with the demanding course all week in training but finally completed an error-free run on Friday, in time for the qualification rounds.
She then made it through to the quarter-finals but a fourth-place finish was not enough to progress.
“It’s frustrating not to get through into the semi-finals, that would have been very nice. But I had quite a lot of trouble in training here on the course,” she said.
“Today was the first time I had made it all the way down the course. I’m just happy I managed to stay on my feet. I was close to the girls and getting through, close but not quite there.
“I’m going to come back for the World Cup finals at the end of the season and then have a bit of a chilled out summer and get ready for the winter.”
Charlie Guest admitted it had been an experience to savour after finishing 33rd in the women’s slalom.
Guest had been targeting a top-30 finish in PyeongChang and, while improving from 42nd after her first run, was not able to quite meet her target.
Gold went to Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter while Guest’s teammate Alex Tilley failed to finish the first run. Both Brits will be back for the team event on the penultimate day of the Games.
“I really wanted to be in the top 30 and that’s disappointing but I made too many costly mistakes on a very tough hill,” said Guest.
“The last four years have been tough. Every season I’ve had a setback – whether it’s a broken hand or problems with my back.
“After Christmas I couldn’t walk for three days properly, so to come here and race the best girls in the world really means something.”
What to watch out for tomorrow…
Team GB could make it three Olympic skeleton medals in two days as Lizzy Yarnold and Laura Deas chase podium finishes in the third and fourth runs of the women’s skeleton. The third heat starts at 20:20 (11:20 am UK time).
Before then, the women’s team of Mica Moore and Mica McNeil will have their first official training runs as will the two-man team of Brad Hall and Joel Fearon.
It’s a busy day of curling action too with both the men and women in action – and each will get to experience the atmosphere of playing against the home nation.
Eve Muirhead’s rink open against Denmark at 09:05 (00:05am UK time) and then take on South Korea at 20:05 (11:05am) while the men play the hosts at 14:05 (05:05am UK time).
We get our first glimpse of the freestyle skiers with Izzy Atkin and Katie Summerhayes going in the slopestyle qualification from 10:00 (01:00am UK time) and the final from 13:00 (04:00am UK time).
And in the evening, Elise Christie looks to bounce back from her 500m disappointment in the 1500m alongside Kathryn Thomson and Charlotte Gilmartin. Heats start at 19:00 (10:00am UK time). Farrell Treacy also goes in the 1000m quarter-finals.
Report courtesy of Team GB