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Olympic GOLD for Lizzy Yarnold – The first gold medal for Team GB of Sochi 2014

It’s Olympic GOLD for Lizzy Yarnold  – The first gold medal for Team GB of Sochi 2014, topping off an emotional week in women’s sport. Adele Norris reports


The 25-Year old Lizzy Yarnold dominated the women’s skeleton from start to finish and took the gold medal by almost an entire second.

Yarnold holds the current World Cup title after alternating podium places with American Noelle Pikus-Pace all season.

The Olympic heats were sure to be a close call between the rivals but Yarnold set a standard from day one and held a 0.44 second advantage after the first two runs on Thursday.

She extended that to 0.78 seconds in the third run on Friday – a track record!

Her total time and Olympic finish came in at three minutes, 52.89 seconds.

A whole 0.97 seconds ahead of Silver medallist Pikus-Pace and Bronze placed Elena Nikina of Russia.

‘It is unexplainable. I am sure it won’t sink in for another few days,’ she said.

Lizzy Yarnold. Picture: Facebook
Lizzy Yarnold. Picture: Facebook

‘I have worked so hard to get into this position and I am just so proud that my dreams have come true.’

This is Team GB’s second successive Winter Olympic’s skeleton title. Amy Williams won gold at the Vancouver Games in 2010.

Shelley Rudman, who won Britain and silver medal at the 2006 Winter Games, finished in 16th position.

‘I always secretly intended to come to Sochi. That was always my dream and my goal but to win the whole race is far beyond my expectations.’

‘It started such a long time ago. I was an athlete at the age of 13 with my parents driving me around the country every night for training. I wouldn’t have got here without them.’

‘But it is people like the whole team of British Skeleton, National Lottery funding and UK Sport. All of those people make a load difference to us athletes.’

Yarnold’s gold is only the tenth gold medal in Team GB Winter Games history.

‘I have no idea what will happen in the future. I love training, I am a dedicated athlete and I am an athlete through and through, that is all I know.’


‘Gobsmacked’ Elise Christie is denied top positions in two tragic races at Sochi

Elise Christie and Charlotte Gilmartin started the Women’s Short Track Speed Skating events well with both progressing to the 500m semi finals.

But Olympic dreams fell apart for Christie in the final after a collision with Italian Arianna Fontana.

Christie leapt back into action determined to finish the race at least.

Elise Christie. Credit Michael Poole
Elise Christie. Credit Michael Poole

And what a fight this young lady puts up, she came back to cross the line in second place!

Celebrations could barely begin though when the referee announced a penalty for the incident and demoted her to last place.

She said obviously she was upset but had to respect the decision:

‘I just didn’t want to be the one in third place getting attacked at the end so I tried to move up early when I had the chance. I had the speed but unfortunately we all went down.

‘The referee has made a decision and I have to respect that. I do respect it, everyone will have a different opinion on what happened but that is the way short track works. When it comes to it, it is out of my control.

Christie’s coach Nick Gooch also said there was little that could be done:

‘We look at it from our perspective and you could argue it until the cows come home it would make no difference. You can appeal it, you can make an official written warning but it is not going to make a difference.

But he was certain of his own opinion of what happened out on the ice:

‘The way the referee looks at it, is that Elise instigated the crash. Clearly she was knocked off her feet by the Italian girl but the way the referee looks at it, it was that Elise instigated and caused the crash.’

Head held high Christie still had the 1,500m competition to look to.

Elise Christie (front) Picture: Michael Poole
Elise Christie (front) Picture: Michael Poole

But in a devastating turn of events it seems the 23-year-old couldn’t have a worse Olympic adventure.

In the heats for the 1,500m Christie pushed to the very last second in a fierce photo finish.

It seemed the tip of her blade crossed the line just 100th of a second ahead of her opposition Arianna Fontana, the Italian competitor she clashed with just days earlier in the 500m.

‘I was waiting to watch my team-mate (Charlotte Gilmartin) race and I didn’t know whether I’d come first or second but I believed I’d qualified and skated a clean race,’ she described.

In a tragic blow the referee instead awarded Christie a ‘Did Not Finish’ on the grounds she didn’t ‘literally’ cross the line marked on the ice, but was instead 1cm wide of the track.

Coach Nick Gooch said: ‘The referee said Elise didn’t cross the line. Where the finish line crosses the track, she crossed inside that line. The judge ruled she was off track and that means officially she hasn’t finished the race.

‘The top three qualified, she’d done nothing wrong. She tried to win the race because there is a benefit to that and the referee has called it off track.

‘I’ve seen it called before but it doesn’t happen normally and I was really shocked. I’ve looked at the video and we’re talking centimetres here.’

Elise Christie - Image credit David Tyrrell
Elise Christie – Image credit David Tyrrell

BBC Sport interviewed a teary Christie shortly after the decision.

She said the last few days had been particularly tough and she had received abuse across the Internet, now she is ‘gobsmacked’ with the judges’ ruling.

She said: ‘I respected his (the referee’s) decision the other day but today I have no idea what is going on.’

‘I’d like to say I could find a reason to respect his decision but at the moment I have no idea what is going on.’


An opening week against some of the Game’s toughest Curlers saw mixed emotions from Team GB’s women but standing in joint third they’re full of fight.

Team GB women opened their Winter Games against Sweden, the team they lost to in the final of the recent European Championship.

Little changed to that games and the women lost 6-4.

But Skip Eve Muirhead it was always going to be a tough opening competing with the favourites in the competition.

Eve Muirhead Picture: Twitter @evemuirhead
Eve Muirhead Picture: Twitter @evemuirhead

They fell 3-0 behind after three ends.

‘I think when you go down a few it is always going to be a bit frustrating but I think we played well in the middle half of the game and if we can take that to the next game – and the next game is a new one – we will definitely step it up.’

Vicki Adams (Curling – Second) described the atmosphere in the venue with a fierce Russian crowd.

‘It was really noisy out there, everyone was supporting Russia, but it was a great atmosphere and it was great to be out there playing.’

The ladies came back fighting in their second match against the US winning 12-3.

The Americans conceded after six ends and Team GB notched up a seven in the fourth end, which was an Olympic first.

Eve said it was important for them to come out and take a win: ’That was definitely more like Team Muirhead. The four of us really pulled together and played well. Things aren’t perfect just yet, we can still get better. In major championships we seem to start off slightly slow and get better and better and we can certainly build on that.”

She promised to come out sharp against next rivals Canada, and while they stuck to her word it proved to just not be enough.

The match went down to the last stone with Canada emerging 9-6 victors.

Team Muirhead Sochi 2014 Picture: Twitter @Team_Muirhead
Team Muirhead Sochi 2014 Picture: Twitter @Team_Muirhead

The girls returned to their winning ways with a 8-7 victory over China on Thursday followed by an astounding 12-3 win against Japan on Friday.

A third win in a row came with a 10-8 win over Korea.

It put Great Britain joint second on the standings with four wins and two defeats.

They were knocked down to joint third (with China and Switzerland) on Saturday following a 8-6 defeat by Switzerland.

But with remaining round robin games to come against Russia and Denmark on Monday leaves a chance for change.

Canada have already qualified for the semi-finals after winning their seventh straight match.

‘We’re not done and out, we’ve got a long way to go and we’ll be pushing hard on Monday.’ Said Eve.

‘We’re all throwing the stone great. We’re 4-3 and we’ve lost to Sweden, Canada and Switzerland and they’re three tough teams but if we played any of those guys again we are confident that they are there for the taking.’


Chemmy Alcott pleased with her performance after two broken legs in four years: ‘19th is a gold for me.’

I was a battle for Chemmy Alcott to even qualify for the Sochi team.

After breaking her leg twice and missing vital races in the 2014 season the 31-year-old had a tough job to impress selectors she would be fit in tie to race.

After four Olympic Games she described herself as ‘a bit of an Olympic Veteran’ and was determined not to miss out saying here commitment to Sochi was about personal goals.

Chemmy Alcott, Women's Super G
Chemmy Alcott, Women’s Super G

With that in mind she her 16th place finish in the Women’s Super Combined Downhill with a time of 1.44.83 wasn’t a bad run.

‘I never put any statistics on it, if I had then top 20 would have been massively over superseding what I expected.’

Choosing not to take part in the Super Combined Slalom Chemmy wanted to concentrate on Wednesday’s Downhill.

‘There were a couple of turns up there that really challenged my leg, so I just had to muscle through them and know where my strengths are, and charge it where I can.’

She finished 19th in a time of 1.43.43.

‘After what I’ve been through, it’s amazing justice. I’m swelling with pride and I’m on a buzz.

‘I’ve done this against all odds and I’m very proud.

‘I know it sounds crazy to some people, especially when we have such a strong team here in Sochi, but 19th is a gold for me.

‘Anyone who has followed what I’ve been through will understand that.’

Chemmy made her second appearance of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games in the ladies’ Super-G and finished 23rd in a time of 1:29.14 minutes

‘Ski racing is a brutal sport to go out on your best race ever is the golden day but I don’t think that golden day happens that often.’

She said the course was ‘brutal’.

‘You had ice at the top to deal with then it was gripping and then there was snow at the bottom.’


Katie Summerhayes took Team GB to the final but conditions on the snow got the better of her

Team GB’s Katie Summerhayes advanced to the final of the ski slopestyle as the third best qualifier, with scores of 81.40 and 84.00.

Katie Summerhayes Picture: Twitter: @suummerhayes
Katie Summerhayes Picture: Twitter: @suummerhayes

She finished seventh after falling on her opening final run.

‘I’m gutted and there’s been tears. It happens, that’s our sport and people fall but I’m just gutted.

‘I’m still happy with how I skied, so I need to take some positives.’


In a photo finish Gillings misses out on Snowboardcross finals.

Zoe Gillings finished ninth in the women’s snowboard cross at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.

Zoë Gillings
Zoë Gillings

She narrowly lost out qualifying for the final after a photo finish.

She said Lindsey Jacobellis fell in front of her causing her to change he line and costing valuable speed.

‘I’m really disappointed about the photo finish and not quite making the final but it can be pretty small margins in this sport. One of the officials said I’d made it but it flashed up on the screen about 15 seconds that I hadn’t.

‘My aim coming into the competition was to ride as well as I could and stay on my feet. This is my first Olympics where I’ve not had an injury.’

Sochi is Zoe’s third Olympics.

‘I’ll keep going as long as I can do, I still love the sport and there is no reason to stop unless something really makes me.’


Amanda Lightfoot’s first Olympics ‘didn’t go to plan’ and funding threatens her chance to return.

Amanda Lightfoot placed 71st in the women’s 15km individual.

She missed five targets in the shooting range and posted a time of 54:38.1 minutes.

Amanda Lightfoot Picture- Twitter @amandabiathlon1
Amanda Lightfoot Picture- Twitter @amandabiathlon

She said: ‘It didn’t go to plan. It is my first Olympics so it is a learning curve for me but I am a bit disappointed.

‘I think I made the wrong ski selection and that was the reason for being so slow up the hills.

‘And also my head wasn’t very good in the range, I haven’t been that confident in my shooting.

Recent threats to funding for Britain’s Biathletes means Lightfoot, 26, could be returning to the Adjutant General’s Corps where she serves, unable to compete again.

Not that she is letting it stop her dreams: ‘I need to get that back together but this makes me more determined to come back in four years time for sure.’


Posy Musgrave misses out by 12 places.

Posy is the older sister of British cross-country skier Andrew. Both siblings are competing at Sochi.

Posy Musgrave
Posy Musgrave

The debutant placed 42nd in qualifying of the women’s event, she needed to be in the top 30 to progress to the knockout stages.

‘Conditions made it tough, it has been quite warm, so it is a little slushy in places and you are working through really deep snow in places.’

Later in the week she finished 66th in the ladies’ 10km classic in a time of 36:18.5 minutes.


Fiancés Stacey Kemp and David King struggle to improve scores.

The duo skated the same routine for the short programme as they did for the team figure skating event last week.

To the music of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 they scored 44.97, a slight improvement on the 44.70 they scored in the team event.

Stacey Kemp and David King
Stacey Kemp and David King

It ranks them 19th, three places short of joinging the couples in Wednesday’s free skate.

David said: ‘There was only one mistake and it seemed to cost us a lot of marks. Our levels were loads better and I don’t know why we got such big deductions.

‘Our lift was better, our twist was better, our death spiral was better, our axel was better – everything was an improvement but Stacey went down and it seemed to cost us a lot of points.’

Top picture: Facebook/LizzyYarnold

Read more Winter Olympics updates from Adele Norris

Jenny Jones rocks Sochi – Winter Olympics week one 


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