Lizzy Yarnold wins Great Britain’s first gold medal of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games having defended her skeleton title from Sochi. The Brit set track records in her first and last run to ensure that she retained her Olympic title. Team mate Laura Deas kept herself in contention on the first day and moved up to the bronze medal position after Austria’s Janine Flock made mistakes on her final run.
Success for GB in training
Ahead of the Games, the GB skeleton athletes had had steady seasons with Olympic debutant Deas finishing seventh in the World Cup – only finishing outside of the top 12 once. Whereas, Yarnold had a more inconsistent season but still managed to secure ninth overall having secured a podium early in the season and three other top 10 performances.
On the first day of training runs, Deas finished in second – just one hundredth behind the leader – with Yarnold completed the first run in third place. While on the second run, the debutant improved and finished at the top of the leader board with the 2014 Olympic Champion in fourth.
The second day saw the next two runs with opposing results for the Brits. In the first run of the day, Deas topped the standings once again with Yarnold in sixth but in the second run, it was Yarnold who posted the fastest time with Deas in seventh.
The final day of training saw some more strong performances from the Brits. In the first run Yarnold claimed the third fastest time while Deas was in seventh. However, in the final training run both Brits were back near the top with Yarnold finishing in second place while Deas ended that run in fourth.
Some questioned how the Brits, who had not had the best World Cup season, were suddenly at the top of the leader board in the training runs and the new race suits they were wearing were cited as a reason. However the IBSF checked the new suits, which have special drag-resistant edges, and concluded there were no rule violations.
Track record for Yarnold on day one
On the first day of competition both Brits completed two solid runs but with room for improvement. Deas hit the wall at the coming out of turn nine which cost her but she still managed to claim the sixth fastest time. Whereas, Yarnold came out all guns blazing and posted the fastest time of the heat – a 51.66 which was a new track record.
In the second run, it was Deas who had the better of the track posting the second fastest time of the session and moving up to fourth overall. Whereas, the reigning Olympic Champion’s time was only good enough for ninth in the session and she dropped down to third overall. The Brits nearest rivals after day one were Germany’s Jacqueline Lölling who sat in first place and Austria’s Janine Flock who was just behind the German in second.
Going into the final day, the Brits were hoping to definitely pick up one medal if not two. The first run saw German Tina Hermann post the fastest time of the session with Yarnold having the second fastest, that moved her up to second place overall just two hundredths behind Flock in first. Whereas, Deas had her fastest run on the competition to date setting a time of 51.96 to maintain her fourth place position.
In the final run, the Brits thrived on the pressure and Deas produced her fastest time of the competition to secure her at least fourth place. Similarly, Yarnold also had the best run of her competition to set another track record in a time of 51.46 and go into the lead with one athlete to go. All the pressure was on Flock of Austria and unfortunately, it told as she only posted the tenth best time which saw her drop down to fourth place.
Skeleton history and Great British history had been made. Yarnold became the first skeleton athlete to ever retain their Olympic title and she is the first Brit to defend their Winter Olympic title. With Izzy Atkin having won Great Britain a bronze medal in ski slopestyle this morning, the addition of the skeleton medals means that Saturday 17th February 2018 is the most successful day in Great Britain’s history at the Winter Olympics. It is also the first time that Great Britain have won medals in both the men’s and women’s skeleton events with Dom Parsons taking bronze.
The Alpensia Sliding Centre will play host to the 2-man bobsleigh on February 18th at 11.05 GMT, where Great Britain have Brad Hall and Joel Fearon competing.
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