From Pyeongchang, KOR
Feb. 17, 2018 – Lizzy Yarnold became the first women’s skeleton athlete to defend an Olympic gold medal Saturday evening, winning a tight race with a huge last run.
Austrian Janine Flock came into the fourth and final heat up just .02 ahead of Yarnold and .1 ahead of World Cup champion Jacqueline Lölling. Those three, as well as Yarnold’s teammate Laura Deas and German Anna Fernstädt, were closer than in any Olympics ever, just .24 from first to fifth.
Fernstädt’s fourth run was sixth-fastest and dropped her just behind teammate Tina Hermann. It was then Laura Deas’ turn. Deas was quick enough to hold her position, giving her an outside shot at a medal.
It was then Lölling’s turn. In pure Lölling fashion, the German mustered the 18th quickest start, but picked up speed all the way down the Alpensia Sliding Centre course to finish ahead of Deas to guarantee a medal for Germany.
Yarnold was next, and not only set the fastest time of the entire race, but a new track record as well.
The pressure was on Janine Flock. The 2015/2016 World Cup champion fell back at the start with a mistake out of Curve 2. The mistake cost her, and Flock not only failed to match Yarnold’s pace, but failed to keep pace with anyone on the podium, falling to fourth. Flock’s run gave Yarnold gold, Lölling silver, and Deas a bronze.
The gold for Yarnold’s comes after a frustrating season where, at one point, she’d finished 23rd in a World Cup event.
“You never know what’s going to happen. I’ve had a real roller coaster World Cup season, it taught me a lot of hard lessons that thinks can go wrong, but sport is about believing in yourself and knowing that the Olympics were in February, not in December when I was falling off my sled and finishing 23rd,” Yarnold said.
At first, Deas couldn’t believe she’d won bronze.
“I knew I’d put down a good fourth run, but I didn’t think I’d done enough,” Deas said. “It was a real roller coaster of emotion watching Lizzy putting down a great run and I thought I hadn’t done it. Then Janine made a mistake and I thought I might have a chance. But you never know until you see that number pop up.”
The gold and bronze for Great Britain marks the first time since 1908 that Great Britain’s had two athletes on the same podium, and the first time ever for a British winter athlete to win two gold medals.
With a silver medal for Lölling, Germany’s third medal in women’s skeleton (tying the US for second in medals won with three behind Great Britain with 6). Lölling was thrilled with a silver medal despite making some mistakes in her third heat.
“I can’t describe the feeling of winning silver,” Lölling said of her Olympic effort.. “I think the first run today wasn’t so good in the exit of [curve] nine, I lost a lot of time there. The second run today was good, though.”
Flock would have to settle for fourth, ahead of Hermann and Fernstädt, who rounded out the top six.
The 2018 Olympic Games were a tough one for the United States skeleton program. Much like the men, the American women could never really find a rhythm to the South Korean track. Katie Uhlaender started the Olympics in the top ten, but struggled over the next three runs, finishing 13th. Teammate Kendall Wesenberg finished 17th.
For the Canadians, it may not have been the Olympics they’d hoped for, but it was still a solid effort. Elisabeth Vathje made a mistake on her third run, but rallied for a second-quickest run in the fourth heat to finish ninth, one spot ahead of Jane Channell in tenth. Mimi Rahneva finished just out of the top ten in 12th place.
|Pos||Name||Nation||Bib||Run 1||Run 2||Run 3||Run 4||Total|
|18||Maria Marinela Mazilu||ROU||1||53.31||53.47||53.48||53.66||3:33.92|