HISTORIC DAY AT OLYMPICS FOR GB
17th February 2018 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Izzy Atkin is the first British skier in history to win an Olympic medal. Her bronze in the slopestyle kicked off Super Saturday with GB winning a gold and another bronze.
Three medals in one day.
It’s the most successful 24 hours in British Winter Olympic history.
It all began with 19-year-old Izzy Atkin – the youngest athlete in the entire GB squad – who put in a cool, calm performance in the ski slopestyle final.
She moved up from fourth into a podium spot with the last of her three runs.
It’s the first medal for a skier in a Winter Olympics and only the second on snow after Jenny Jones won bronze in the snowboard slopestyle at Sochi four years ago. (Alain Baxter was initially awarded slalom bronze in 2002 but he was later disqualified and stripped of his medal).
At the time Atkin’s bronze was Team GB’s second medal of the Games. Dom Parsons also won bronze in the skeleton on Friday.
Hours later in what turned into Super Saturday for Team GB, there were another two medals, including a first gold.
It was a day of firsts.
Lizzy Yarnold became the first British Winter Olympian to successfully defend her title in the women’s skeleton. Laura Deas took the bronze, with the German Jacqueline Loelling splitting the two Brits to take silver.
Read more on their success in our round-up below.
Izzy Atkin’s result is sensational in her Olympic debut but not totally unexpected.
She was considered to be one of Team GB’s best prospects in Pyeongchang.
Atkin went into the event after taking the silver medal at the prestigious X Games in Aspen and bronze in a World Cup competition there last month.
Last season she became the first British woman to win a ski slopestyle World Cup gold medal and was third in the World Championships.
Even so, for a teenager with no Olympic experience, to have dealt with the pressure is impressive.
Atkin had been in third place after her second run but was bumped down into fourth by the American X Games champion, Maggie Voisin.
But she stepped it up on her final run to go back into a medal position.
She had to wait for the last three finalists to go before her bronze medal was confirmed.
She said she was overwhelmed to win a medal.
“There were tons of big names in the field, you know, it could have been anyone’s,” she said.
“I was standing at the bottom after my third and final run. I knew I’d skied the best I could and I was just waiting for those last three or four girls to drop. My heart was racing.
“I just can’t believe it.”
Atkin, who was born in the USA and lives in Utah, has a British father and chose to compete for GB.
Her parents were watching on.
The gold and silver medals went to Swiss skiers. Sarah Hoefflin is the Olympic champion and Mathilde Gremaud the runner-up.
Izzy Atkin’s GB teammate, 22-year-old Katie Summerhayes, also made it through to the final and finished in an impressive seventh place, despite a painful ankle.
This was her first competition after suffering a serious ankle injury two months ago and she hurt it again in training for the qualification round.
She thought she might not be able to compete.
It matches her result from Sochi four years ago but Summerhayes was distraught immediately after the final and said it didn’t feel like a great result.
“It doesn’t feel like that right now. I’m gutted,” she said.
“I’ve worked so hard in the past four years. I got injured two months ago. It’s going to hurt for a while, I think.”
GB’S OLYMPIC SKI RECORD
- The best British result for a skier in a Winter Olympics before now was fourth place for Gina Hathorn in the slalom in the 1968 Games in Grenoble.
- Although Alain Baxter won bronze in the slalom at Salt Lake City in 2002, he was later disqualified for failing a drugs test after taking a Vicks inhaler. He was eventually cleared of attempting to gain a competitive advantage but the medal was not returned to him and was awarded instead to Austria’s Benjamin Raich.
More on those skeleton medalsGB’s skeleton sliders have exceeded all expectations in Pyeongchang.
UK Sport set a minimum target for them of a top eight position with an expectation that they could pick up one medal.
They have three medals and one is a gold.
The results will justify skeleton’s place at the top of the winter sports tree for UK Sport funding.
After her gold Lizzy Yarnold said she was exhausted and just wanted to take a nap.
“Yesterday after the first run I almost bailed out of the competition because my chest infection was so uncomfortable and I couldn’t breathe” she said.
“My physio Louise just gave me a talking to and said ‘you can do it, you can do it’, and if it wasn’t for every single one of the team, my coach Eric, I wouldn’t be here right now, so I am hugely grateful to them.”
Laura Deas said that winning bronze was like a dream.
“I can’t believe I am part of a Super Saturday, I never thought I’d be saying that,” she said.
“I’m just extremely proud to be part of an historic day.
“I thought ‘this must be a mistake, someone is going to tap me on the shoulder and say sorry . I have worked so hard for this for the past nine years.
“My family are freezing their socks off and I am so glad they can be part of it.
“Lizzy is such a phenomenal athlete, she is so consistent and she knows how to bring it when it matters.”
More headlines from day eight…..
Short-track speed skating
There was more Olympic heartbreak for GB’s Elise Christie, who crashed out of the 500m final earlier this week.
After qualifying for the semi-finals in the 1,500m, she again fell and was disqualified for impeding another skater.
She was taken from the rink on a stretcher. A scan revealed that she hadn’t broken anything.
Christie is due to race in the heats of the 1,000m – her preferred distance – on Tuesday.
GB’s Lloyd Wallace didn’t quite do enough to get through to the finals but landed a good second jump in qualification to score 100.03 points.
It was a great achievement for him to even get to the Games after a serious training accident last summer.
The 23-year-old overcame a heavy crash on his first run to land his second and can be proud of his Olympic debut.
“It’s been a crazy six months,” he said.
“They put me into a coma in August and I’ve had to come back from severe concussion and losing muscle mass. I’ve had to work extremely hard.
“My season has gone from huge highs of getting back into it and then really low lows of midway through the season when things weren’t going too well and qualification for the Olympics was on the line.
“But I’ve got here, I’ve jumped at the Olympics, I’ve competed and I’m an Olympian. It’s unbelievable.”
Alpine – women’s super G
In what is surely the shock of the Games, a snowboarder is the Olympic women’s super G champion.
Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic could not believe it herself, asking “how did that happen?”
Maybe it was the skis. She borrowed them from the Olympic giant slalom champion, Mikaela Shiffrin.
Ledecka is best known as a double world champion in snowboard events and will compete in the snowboard parallel slalom in Pyeongchang.
She could become the first person to win a medal in both skiing and snowboarding at the same Olympics.
Highlights coming up on day nine….
Men’s ski slopestyle
There’s a real chance that Team GB could win its second skiing medal of the Games and its fifth in total.
James Woods is one of the best freestyle skiers in the world.
26-year-old Woodsy is a four-time slopestyle winner at World Cup level, his most recent victory coming at the opening event of this season in New Zealand.
He has twice stood on the World Championships podium and showed good form in January with strong performances at the Snowmass World Cup and X-Games.
He finished fifth at the Sochi Olympics despite suffering a severe hip injury in training.
Woodsy competes alongside teammate Tyler Harding, an Olympic debutant, who’s been in good form this season, earning his first World Cup top 10.
Qualification gets under way at 10am (1am GMT) with the final (best of three runs) at 1.15pm (4.15am GMT).
Alpine – men’s giant slalom
The great Austrian Marcel Hirscher will be going for his second gold in Pyeongchang following his victory in the alpine combined.
The first run is at 10.15am (1.15am GMT), the second at 1.45pm (4.45am)
The always exciting bob contests get under way with the first two runs of the two-man bob.
Brad Hall and Joel Fearon go in Team GB’s sled.
Run one is at 8.05pm (11.05am GMT) and run two at 9.40pm (12.40pm GMT)
The final two runs take place on Monday.
Read more of our stories from the Games….
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