Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics - Day 8 review
Amy Williams last night became the first British athlete in 30 years to win an individual gold medal at the Winter Olympics, smashing records on the way to victory in the Ladies’ Skeleton.
The 27-year-old didn’t even make the squad for Torino in 2006, but certainly justified her inclusion this year, and in some style. Her final run wasn’t her best but it didn’t need to be, as she took the gold medal by 0.56 seconds. German duo Kerstin Szymkowiak and Anja Huber took silver and bronze respectively.
Williams set the course record on her first run, clocking a time of 53.83 seconds, reaching a peak speed of 143.3 km/h. She went even better on her third run, breaking her own record, with a mark of 53.68. None of the other ladies came close to matching that time, and it almost ensured, barring a complete disaster on her fourth and final run, that she would be the Olympic champion.
Williams enjoyed fantastic support throughout the event, from a sizeable British contingent at the Whistler Sliding Centre, including three topless gentlemen with a letter each of Ã¢â‚¬ËœAmy’ painted on their torsos!
The skeleton event was first run at the 1928 St Moritz Games, but did not become a permanent fixture until Salt Lake City in 2002. Since then, Britain’s women have become a real force in the sport. Williams’ gold marks the third medal in three Games since then, following Alex Coomber’s bronze in 2002, and Shelley Rudman’s silver in 2006.
Rudman clocked the fastest time on the fourth run, but was always struggling to make the podium after a poor first run. Her final two runs were much better, giving her a sixth place finish overall. There was disappointment for the hosts, as Mellisa Hollingsworth missed out on a medal. She sat in second position behind Williams after the third run, but a terrible final run condemned her to fourth place.
There was joy for Canada in the Men’s event though, as Jon Montgomery snatched gold away from Latvia’s Martin Dukurs. The Baltic nation have never won a Winter Olympic gold, and after three great runs, Dukurs went into the final run looking likely to become their first. His final run also looked Olympic-champion good, until the last corner, when a slight error cost him speed.
On any other day, the run - 52.61 seconds - would probably still have been good enough for the gold medal. However, today, Montgomery had made up enough ground in his course-record third run, to make Dukurs’ mistake count. His final run was, in the end, more than enough to turn the 0.18 second deficit after three runs, into a victory by 0.07 seconds.
After a slow start to the games, Norway are now firmly on a roll. Their gold medal tally now stands at five, after picking up two more on Friday. Aksel Lund Svindal won silver in the Men’s Downhill on day four, and went one better at Whistler Creekside yesterday, taking gold in the Super-G.
American Bode Miller also went one better, winning silver, after taking the bronze in the Downhill. However, he once again found himself behind Svindal, who stormed down the course in 1:30:34. The Norwegian started in position 19, and nobody who followed looked like catching him; at one point on the course, Svindal was almost 10mph faster than Miller.
Having never finished better than 10th in the World Cup in his career so far, Andrew Weibrecht surprised everyone by winning the bronze.
Marit Bjoergen continued her fantastic performance so far in these Games, winning the gold in the Ladies’ Cross-Country 15km Pursuit. She became the first athlete to win multiple gold medals in these games, adding to her gold in the Sprint, in addition to a bronze in the 10km Free.
Saturday will see Lindsey Vonn try and erase her disappointment in the Super-Combined, as she aims for gold in the Ladies’ Super-G at Whistler Creekside. There is plenty more Speed Skating action from the Richmond Olympic Oval, with three medal events taking place.
The Ã¢â‚¬ËœOlympic Flying Squad’ – the ski jumpers – are also back in action on Saturday, as the Large Hill competition takes place at the Whistler Olympic Park. This should be the one to watch, with all the action on British Eurosport from 7pm (UK), with commentary from the brilliant David Goldstrum.