Flock wins with Yarnold taking third in opening Skeleton World Cup race

Janine Flock, the Austrian number one slider, took skeleton Gold in the season opener at the BMW IBSF World Cup Race 1 ahead of Canadian Elisabeth Vathje with Great Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold taking bronze.

The Adirondack mountains within the Lake Placid Olympic Sports Complex, New York State, USA hosted race 1 in the BMW IBSF World Cup, with Olympic qualification points at stake the competition was always going to be tight and we were treated to a very exciting race.

Through official training the unseasonably warm weather played havoc with the schedule resulting in the International Federation ruling that the whole 4-man bobsleigh schedule would be cancelled due to deteriorating ice conditions. The programme will now include two 2-man races and next week Park City, Utah will host 4-man races 1 & 2.

The skeleton races and women’s bobsleigh remained as per the original programme.

After run 1 Flock (AUT), who set a new track record of 54.69(s) led the field from Nikitina (RUS) who broke the start record with a blistering 5.07(s) start, the next best start of the heat was her teammate Kanakina (RUS) with a 5.19(s). Canadian Vathje (CAN) held the bronze medal slot ahead of reigning World Champion Loelling (GER) and 2014 Olympic Champion Yarnold (GBR) in 5th.

In heat 2 Russian Nikitina again broke the start record with a stunning 5.03(s) but a rough run down saw her drop to 4th 0.02(s) behind bronze medal place. Yarnold moved up to Bronze with a very tidy run. Vathje held onto silver but Flock’s dominance and experience showed with a steady run that was enough to secure gold by 0.26(s).

“I’m really pleased with my push starts on both runs – it’s the fastest I’ve ever gone,” said Yarnold, who clocked start times of 5.31 and 5.22 seconds in New York State. “Third isn’t first, where I always aim to be, but, nonetheless, it’s a good start to the season and I’m raring to go for next week.”

Great Britain’s other sliders, Laura Deas took 5th place and Ashleigh Pittaway 21st. Deas jumped up from eighth at the halfway mark thanks to the third quickest run of the second heat.

“That’s a really good opener to the season. It gives me a platform to push on from,” added Deas. “I want to be in the top six consistently and be challenging for medals. I left myself a lot to do after the first run but I was really pleased with my push starts and with the way I pulled my way back into contention in the second run.”

Britain’s Ashleigh Pittaway finished 21st in just her second World Cup appearance as she recorded a time of 56.17 seconds in Run 1. The reigning Youth Olympic Champion’s solitary World Cup experience prior to Placid came in Konigssee back in March 2016 but she only narrowly missed out on a second run in the States. With just the top 20 of 26 athletes making it through to Run 2, the 17-year-old finished 0.13 seconds outside that marker.

The World Cup action continues later today with the Women’s Bobsleigh at 5.30pm GMT and the 2-man Bobsleigh at 8.30pm, before Dom Parsons, Jerry Rice and Jack Thomas go for GB in the Men’s Skeleton at 1.30pm on Friday.

RacerReady will be reporting the results and views from the world cup races immediately the action finishes.

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