Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Britain’s hopes of finishing the Sochi Olympics with an unprecedented five
medals are still alive, though it is going to require a supreme effort from
Team GB’s No 1 four-man bobsleigh crew to haul themselves into a podium
The British sled lies in seventh place after the first two runs, though only
0.18 sec separates them from the bronze medal position, currently occupied
by Maximilian Arndt’s German crew. Russia’s top crew, driven by Alexander
Zubkov, are in first place, 0.34 sec ahead of the British.
Having been one of the fastest crews in official training last week, and
consistently the quickest starters, Britain will be disappointed not to be
closer to the medal positions, though a combination of several mistakes on
their first run and a disadvantageous starting position left them playing
catch-up with the top-ranked sleds.
Jackson admitted he had been hampered by a start position of 12th in the first
run, which was determined by the crew’s world ranking – a misleading
representation of their true global standing because Jackson has been
recovering from a ruptured Achilles all winter, which has affected World Cup
With the ice at the Sanki Sliding Centre deteriorating markedly throughout the
competition as it became rutted by the sleds running over it, the crews who
started first by virtue of their higher world ranking were at a considerable
Jackson and his brakemen – Joel Fearon, Stuart Benson and Bruce Tusker – found
themselves down in 10th place after the first run but with the running order
of the first 20 sleds reversed for the second run, they managed to move up
three places. Encouragingly, their time for the second run was the second
quickest in the field.
Jackson said: “We’re still only three tenths off the lead, so we’re looking
good. The problem was our start order. As we’ve seen from training, the
first three or four guys are really quick then the ice starts to degrade and
gets slower for each sled.
“The ice is not ideal but it is what it is and probably it is just the Russian
federation keeping the ice nice for its athletes.”
Jackson, whose last Olympic experience was not one he remembers fondly after
crashing in both the two and four-man competitions in Vancouver, admitted
his first run was far from perfect but was happy to produce a clean run on
“The first run we made a couple of little mistakes and in the second run we
just worked on those to try to tidy them up,” he said.
“We had almost identical times and I think that’s what has pulled us up the
order. We’re within quite easy reach of the top four or five.”
Although he refused to be drawn on whether a top-three place was feasible,
Team GB officials will be hoping he can find the extra speed to end the
Games on a glorious note.
Britain’s current tally of four medals is equal to the country’s best previous
performance at a Winter Olympics in Chamonix in 1924. A medal for Jackson
and his colleagues would take Team GB into uncharted territory.
Meanwhile, the United States ice hockey team, who arrived in Sochi with high
hopes of winning gold, will leave empty-handed after slumping to an
embarrassing 5-0 defeat at the hands of Finland. The gold will be contested
by Canada and Sweden on the final day.
Austrian Mario Matt, 34, became the oldest skier to win an Olympic slalom
title when he took gold over compatriot Marcel Marcel, last year’s world
champion, with Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen in third. Britain’s Dave Ryding
produced his best Olympic result by finishing in 18th place.
Cross-country skier Marit Bjoergen became the most decorated female winter
Olympian in history when she led a Norwegian clean sweep of the 30km race.
It took the 33-year-old’s Olympic medal tally to six golds, three silvers and