Path to PyeongChang: 24 days to go
Winter Sports

Path to PyeongChang: 24 days to go

15 January 2018 / 13:24

There’s an awful lot you can do in 24 days but, for those preparing for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, those few days will feel like a lifetime.

Less than a month now remains until the opening ceremony lights up South Korea, with fine tuning now ramping up in the countdown.

The British hopefuls have shown themselves adept for the occasion too,with another busy week across both snow and ice.

Atkin shows her class with World Cup bronze

World championship bronze medallist Izzy Atkin could have hardly laid down a better marker less than a month from the Games.

The slopestyle skier put in an excellent first run to score 87.80 at Aspen Snowmass, enough to earn third place and a first World Cup podium of the season in just her second outing.

That bronze medal could be timed to perfection too, with a potential PyeongChang place just a few weeks away – but Atkin is determined not to stop there.

“I’m stoked to put a run down; I really liked the course and the good weather,” she said.

“Now I can look forward to the X-Games and then onto PyeongChang. Thanks to everyone at GB Park and Pipe, British Ski and Snowboard and Pat [Sharples – coach].”

There was also reason to smile for James Woods, backing up August’s win in New Zealand with sixth place in the United States, also on the World Cup snow for just the second time this campaign.

‘Feeling of the flow’ returns for Olympic champion Yarnold

As Olympic champion in Games year, attention is understandably high when it comes to Lizzy Yarnold.

And the skeleton star put in a solid display in St Moritz, finishing ninth to move herself back into the top ten of the World Cup standings.

It was the consistency of the two runs that would have most pleased the Sochi 2014 gold medallist, vastly improving on the 19th-place finish from Altenberg last week.

Lizzy Yarnold Team GB skeleton

"I'm super pleased with this performance," she said.

"I feel back to normal and loving sliding, the feeling of the flow came back to me after many races of over thinking. I'm grateful to the whole team for their patience and support."

Laura Deas, who has enjoyed five top-ten finishes herself this season, came 12th and is sixth in the overall standings, while Madelaine Smith was just a spot behind in a career-best 13th.

But that wasn’t all, with Dom Parsons securing fifth place and his best finish for nearly two years, ahead of Jerry Rice in 12th.

Resilient McNeill and Moore respond to crash in style

Only a week had passed since Mica McNeill and Mica Moore crashed in bobsleigh action but the pair certainly wasted little time returning in style, in St Moritz.

Their appearance had looked in doubt to everyone except themselves it seemed, vowing to come back stronger and delivering when it mattered most, finishing seventh.

McNeill and Moore stopped the clock in seventh after their first run with a time of 1:08.50, a position they comfortably defended having picked up nearly half a second in their next effort, totalling 2:16.15 for their morning’s work.

The need for speed was certainly evident for Bradley Hall and his sled too, clocking a 5.00 second start time on their way to tenth place in the four-man race.

Hall has already steered a squad to British history when securing a first World Cup medal in four years in Park City, in November.

They weren’t quite to hit the same dizzy heights but this was certainly an encouraging display, stopping the clock just 0.01s ahead of 11th place – with fellow British crew Team Deen finishing 19th.

Tasker ruled out of PyeongChang 2018

One man who won’t be going to South Korea is Bruce Tasker however, with the bobsledder ruled out having suffered a minor stroke earlier this month.

The 30-year-old received scheduled treatment for groin and hip injuries earlier this month, before the stroke, and is expected to make a full recovery - targeting a return to top-level sport later in 2018.

He was then taken to Wexham Park Hospital last Thursday after experiencing dizziness and nausea, with further assessments expected in the coming days.

Bruce Tasker

“I’m gutted not to be able to conclude the four-year cycle by going to the Olympics but I’m very grateful that I’m still fit and healthy,” said Tasker, who was part of the GB four-man team that is line for a potential retrospective bronze medal from the last Games in Sochi in 2014.

“I’m still sore but, otherwise, I feel fine. While I’m not training, I’m already resuming normal life and the dog hasn’t been missing out on her walks!

“I’m set to make a 100 per cent recovery and I already feel as though I’m most of the way there.”

Team Muirhead content after first outing of Olympic year

Team GB’s PyeongChang curlers enjoyed a solid first event of 2018 after reaching the last eight of the International Bernese Ladies Cup.

The rink, led by Eve Muirhead, lost just one game before missing out to Team Wang in an extra end, a squad they could end up facing in just a few weeks’ time.

But they had to do so without third Anna Sloan, side-lined through illness, as alternate Kelly Schafer stepped in to join Sochi Olympic bronze medallists Vicki Adams and Lauren Gray on the Swiss ice.

“Kelly arrived in Scotland (from Canada) last week and will be with us right through to the end of the Games so she stepped in this weekend at third,” said Muirhead.

“She has worked with us throughout the entire year and the team unity between the five of us and the coaches is very strong, which makes for last minute unforeseen circumstances being manageable.”

Young and Clugnet makes history in Dresden as Ryding misses out

Never before had a Great Britain pair flown the flag in a cross-country World Cup team sprint final but Andrew Young and James Clugnet ensured all that changed this weekend.

The pair finished ninth in a tight field, with this a first top-ten in Clugnet’s second World Cup, while Young also impressed en route to the sprint free quarter-finals.

But it was not to be on the Wengen snow for Dave Ryding, failing to finish in the slalom, while Scott Dixon and Amanda Lightfoot finishing 79th and 102nd respectively in the biathlon.

There was also disappointment for Lloyd Wallace, admitting he wasn't at his best at the Freestyle Skiing World Cup in the United States.

“Not my best day at [the] World Cup in Deer Valley, unfortunately it doesn't always go to plan," he said.

The week ahead

Ryding won’t have long to wait until getting back on the snow, with the latest World Cup adventure taking him to Kitzbuhel, Austria – the very same course where he made history last year when finishing second, Britain’s best result for 35 years.

The bobsleigh and skeleton World Cups also continue, this time in Koenigssee, Germany, with Yarnold, Deas, Parsons and Hall among those looking to back up top-ten finishes in recent weeks.

There's also the small matter of the figure skating European Championship for Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland, looking to show their Olympic Winter Games credentials having already earned selection for PyeongChang 2018.

Sportsbeat 2018

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