By Nicola Kenton
- Dom Parsons claims bronze in the men’s Skeleton, as Korea’s Yun Sung-bin storms to gold
- First British male to medal in the event since John Crammond in 1948
- XXIII Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea run until February 25
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA – Great Britain’s Dom Parsons wins GB’s first medal of the Games after claiming skeleton bronze, as Korea’s Yun Sung-bin takes the Gold ahead of Olympic Athletes of Russia’s Nikita Tregubov.
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Parsons opens GB medal count
Dom Parsons won Great Britain’s first medal of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, after finishing with a bronze in the skeleton. The Brit kept himself in contention after the first day and moved up to bronze medal position after the third run. Despite dropping out of the medals after his final run, a mistake by Latvian sliding great Martins Dukurs meant that he secured the final spot on the podium.
After notching GB’s first medal of the Games in South Korea, the British women in both Lizzy Yarnold and Laura Deas will again look to continue Brit dominance in their own skeleton competition which begins on Friday morning UK time.
Training run surprise
Coming into the Games, the GB skeleton athletes had not had outstanding seasons but were nevertheless solid with Deas and Yarnold finishing seventh and ninth overall, while Parsons and Jerry Rice finished 12th and 19th. Therefore, when the training runs began on Monday it was a major surprise to see all three athletes in contention.
Parsons finished sixth in his first run – nearly half a second down on the leader – but in the second and third runs he topped the standings by three tenths and three hundredths, respectively. The fourth session saw the Brit finish in fifth place, just seven hundredths off of the leader. Parsons did not start the fifth or sixth training runs citing that he wanted to rest ahead of the competition.
Considering his place in the World rankings and his finishes on the World Cup circuit, his best this season was fourth in St. Moritz, it was surprising to see Parsons at the top of the leaderboard. However, it also showed that the Brit has learned the track quickly, peaked at the right time and can compete with the best sliders in the world – much like Amy Williams who initially lit the GB Golden sliding streak in Vancouver eight years ago.
Skeleton suits controversy
Following Great Britain’s great training runs, much of the talk has been about the suits that the athletes are wearing. The unexpected nature of the times that GB have been producing, specifically those of Parsons, have lead other nations to question the equipment that the team are using. But what is the difference between the new and old suits?
The new suits, which have special drag-resistant ridges, were made by a company in Northampton – TotalSim – who have been involved with the skin suits designed for British Cycling at the past few Olympics. They have also been developed alongside the English Institute of Sport and are custom-made for the individual athletes. According to the Guardian, they ‘create a ‘turbulence effect’ in the suite that reduces the amount of wind resistance acting on the body’.
Skeleton is one of the most well-funded winter sports receiving £6,549,617 from UK Sport but much of the money goes to research and development, making sure that the equipment the team uses at major Championships is the best it can be. Despite other nations questioning the suits, the governing body – the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) – have checked the new suits and confirmed that there have been no rule violations.
Solid runs on day one
On the first day of competition Parsons completed two solid runs. The first run left him joint fifth with two-time Olympic silver medalist Martins Dukurs while home favourite Yun Sung-bin was three tenths of a second ahead of the rest of the field.
In the second run, Parsons posted the third quickest time of the heat and moved up to fourth place overall with the Korean still out in front having increased his lead to seventh tenths. The other podium positions were filled by Nikita Tregubov, one of the Olympic athletes from Russia, and Dukurs who finished three hundredths of second ahead of the Brit.
The other Brit in the field, Rice, had a consistent first day with two runs of 51.06 and 51.15 seconds to secure 12th at the halfway stage.
Final medal push for Parsons
Having finished the first day in fourth position, Parsons moved up to third place in the third run of the competition. The Brit posted the third fastest time and was just 0.04 seconds behind Dukurs and 0.03 seconds ahead of Tregubov.
With a real chance of claiming a medal in the final run, the athlete from Russia set the target to beat and unfortunately, Parsons made a few mistakes on the course that left him two hundredths behind. With the Briton looked to have missed out however, Dukurs then made two big mistakes in his own final run dropping down below the Brit and gifting him the bronze. This medal was the first in the men’s skeleton since St. Moritz in 1948 when John Crammond claimed a bronze.
The final runs of the competition saw Korean slider Yun increase his lead to the largest winning margin in Olympic skeleton history. The home favourite stormed to the gold medal with a lead of 1.63 seconds over Tregubov and 1.65 seconds over Parsons.
It was another consistent day for Rice, who posted a time of 51.04 in the third run and a new personal best time of 50.99 in the final run to finish his Olympic debut in tenth position.
The first women’s skeleton run begins at 11.20am GMT on Friday with the second day of competition on Saturday at the Olympic Sliding Centre in PyeongChang.
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