Olymics-Skeleton-Australia’s Narraccott in the driving seat at halfway point as Britain’s hopes slide – Metro US

Olymics-Skeleton-Australia’s Narraccott in the driving seat at halfway point as Britain’s hopes slide

Skeleton – Women Heat 1
Skeleton – Women Heat 1

YANQING, China (Reuters) – Australia’s Jaclyn Narracott was on track at the halfway mark of the women’s skeleton on Friday to become the first slider outside of Europe and North America to claim a medal in the event as the sun set on Britain’s dominance of the event.

Narraccott credited having her husband with her in Beijing had helped bring her to top form, though with the Germans Hannah Neise and Tina Hermann nipping at her heels, the race was far from over.

It was also a fine debut for China’s 19-year old, Zhao Dan, the youngest slider in the competition, who hadn’t even tried the sport four years ago at the last Olympics. She sits just in fourth.

“This field is ridiculously competitive, so to be sitting at the top of it is phenomenal”, said Narraccott, who finished 16th in Pyeongyang four years ago.

“I have my husband and my coach by my side, whereas all years we’ve been doing it by Facetime,” she said, speaking to reporters after the race.

She is married to Briton Dom Parsons, who won bronze medal in the men’s skeleton event in South Korea.

The pair were often apart while Narraccott was racing through much of the last Europe-based World Cup season, becoming the first Australian to win in one of the events in St Moritz last month.

“To have him by my side, he’s seeing the ice that I’m seeing, we can do video in real time and to have that support with me is huge.”

“It would be absolutely unreal” for the sport in Australia if she repeats her success in the event’s finale tomorrow night, she said. “It might actually get some girls back into skeleton.”

Germany has been unstoppable in the luge events, claiming the last of four golds available in the team relay on Thursday night. But it has never taken the top spot in the skeleton event.

Just 0.21 seconds behind in second place, Hannah Neise is looking to change that.

“We have been here in October and we had some good experiences here,” she said of the German team.

“Especially me, I really liked the track and I feel confident here. So I don’t stress myself and just keep calm and slide, and concentrate on myself.”

It was a disappointing race for Britain’s Laura Deas, bronze winner in Pyeongchang but who is 21st out of 25 after the first half of the competition.

“I can’t tell you right now why the speed wasn’t there. I don’t know. I think I did myself proud. I’ve worked incredibly hard for the last four years to get to the start block today. And I feel like I did execute exactly what I wanted to do.”

Deas’s mentor and compatriot Lizzy Yarnold took gold in both Sochi and Pyeongchang, and followed British skeleton gold in Vancouver. But the most decorated female skeleton athlete of all time has retired, leaving big shoes to fill.

Britan’s Brogan Crowley was happy with her first Olympic outing, sitting just behind Deas in 22nd.

“It was a step up from training, I’ve got bits in training but i’ve not managed to put much together, so it was definitely progress,” she said.

(Reporting by David Kirton; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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