Host City: Sochi, Russia
Venue(s): Sliding Center Sanki, Rzhanaya Polyana
Date Started: February 13, 2014
Date Finished: February 14, 2014
Format: Four runs, total time determined placement. Top 20 after three runs qualified for final run.
The two main protagonists in the women’s skeleton both came into the sport from a track and field heptathlon background but America’s Noelle Pikus-Pace and Lizzy Yarnold of Great Britain had little else in common. Pikus-Pace was a veteran of 14 years of skeleton sliding whilst Yarnold only made her competitive début at the lowest level of international competition at the end of 2010. The two women had dominated the 2013-14 season and each had tasted victory in four of the eight World Cup races. The overall title had been decided when Yarnold had inherited victory at a race where the American had been disqualified for a minor technical offence. Other contenders included Yarnold’s teammate, world champion Shelley Rudman, Pikus-Pace’s teammate Katie Uhlaender and top Russian hope Yelena Nikitina.
Although it wasn’t generally known until after the competition a turning point occurred six days before the event began. Pikus-Pace suffered a minor concussion during one of the training runs. It wasn’t serious but US team doctors advised her to pull out of a number of training runs. Whether this had an effect on the Olympic championship is hard to say as Yarnold would always have been hard to beat but it certainly did not help the American’s preparations.
Yarnold held a small advantage over Nikitina after the 1st run and progressively stretched her lead over the rest of the two days. As Nikitina faltered Pikus-Pace was able to put herself into a solid 2nd place but neither could prevent the Briton following in the sled marks of fellow countrywoman Amy Williams who had won the event in Vancouver. The margin of victory fell just short of a second with most of the interest on the final run centred on the chase for the final place on the podium.
Nikitina bled time on her final run but just had enough in hand to hold off Uhlaender for the bronze.
|1||Lizzy Yarnold||25||Great Britain||GBR||Gold||3:52.89|
|2||Noelle Pikus-Pace||31||United States||USA||Silver||3:53.86|
|4||Katie Uhlaender||29||United States||USA||3:54.34|
|11T||Katharine Eustace||38||New Zealand||NZL||3:56.21|
|16||Shelley Rudman||32||Great Britain||GBR||3:56.47|