Path to PyeongChang: 53 days to go
Winter Sports

Path to PyeongChang: 53 days to go

18 December 2017 / 13:06

We’re almost at the 50-days-to-go countdown on the path to the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, with Team GB preparations being ramped up as each week passes.

The winter programme may be heading towards a Christmas break, but that didn’t stop a whole host of impressive performances being put in – including a little bit of personal history.

Each Monday we will look back at what British athletes have been getting up to during the past week and who to keep an eye on over the coming seven days.

Musgrave makes history with maiden World Cup podium

Never before had cross country skier Andrew Musgrave stood on the World Cup podium – but that all changed this weekend.

Almost two years to the day since Andrew Young was the last man to medal, Musgrave stormed to the honour in the 15km interval start freestyle event in Toblach, Italy.

Finishing only behind Norway’s Simen Hegstad Krueger and France’s Maurice Manificat, the 27-year-old went some way to overcoming the disappointment of missing out on the World Championship podium earlier this year, when finishing fourth in the 50km freestyle mass start.

“That’s my best result ever,” said Musgrave, whose previous World Cup best was sixth.

“I had very good skis and I’m very happy – the team did a fantastic job.”

But his weekend was far from done there, also taking part in the 15km classic pursuit, finishing 12th.

Deas within a whisker of European Championship medal

The fine margins of sport were evident last week as Laura Deas missed out European Championship bronze by just one hundredth of a second.

Finishing sixth in the World Cup, Deas was the fourth-fastest European with the skeleton doubling up for the continental Championships, with this a painful way to miss out on a place on the podium in Austria.

World Cup and European Championship gold both went to Elena Nikitina, while world champion Jacqueline Loelling was fourth overall and second fastest European.

Home favourite Janine Flock pipped Deas to the last of the medals, though this was far from the worst way to go into the Christmas break.

Lizzy Yarnold and Madelaine Smith were also in action for Great Britain, finishing 12th and 13th out of the European racers, respectively.

And there were impressive performances from Marcus Wyatt, seventh in the European Championships, as well as Jerry Rice and Dom Parsons who also finished in the top 12.

Five short track speed skaters selected for PyeongChang 2018

Nothing says path to PyeongChang quite like names being selected for the Games, with five short track speed skaters confirmed as heading to South Korea in February.

That includes Elise Christie, competing for the third time after her appearances at Sochi and Vancouver – with this one coming less than a year after becoming triple world champion.

Joining her will be Sochi 2014 athlete Charlotte Gilmartin, who has collected European and World Cup medals over the last year, making significant year-on-year improvements.

Elise Christie celebrates her gold medal

And a trio of Olympic Winter Games debutants will head to PyeongChang, with Kathryn Thomson, Joshua Cheetham and Farrell Treacy all taking their bows.

“It’s been a great end to the World Cup season for me and a relief after a tough season with injuries,” said Christie.

“I can't wait to get back out to Korea and compete again at the stadium in front of the crowds there who are amazing, and I'm really looking forward to being part of Team GB again after four years.”

Double top-ten delight for Atkin and Woods

The post-run facial expression said it all for James Woods after bringing the curtain down on 2017 in style at the Dew Tour.

Qualifying in seventh for the Slopestyle finals, that was where six-time World Cup medallist finished in Colorado, even with a couple of small mistakes.

But it was to be even better for fellow freestyle skier Izzy Atkin, qualifying in second before eventually finishing in fifth place in the United States.

Murray Buchan and Madi Rowlands were in action too, in the halfpipe, the latter unfortunate to miss out on the finals when finishing tenth in qualifying, while Rowan Cheshire made strong progress on her recovery from injury, placing 16th.

Hall and Deen slide into Christmas after Innsbruck outing

The bobsleigh season has already been an impressive one for Bradley Hall and Lamin Deen’s sleds, even before heading into Christmas.

Their calendar year ended in the World Cup in Innsbruck with the four-man bobsleigh, with Hall, Nick Gleeson, Andrew Matthews and Greg Cackett finishing 11th, two spots ahead of Deen, Ben Simons, Bruce Tasker and Joel Fearon.

The weekend also served as a European Championships double-header, with Hall and Gleeson also in the top 20 of the two-man competition, as were Tasker and Fearon in their last race of the calendar year.

The week ahead

Most of us may have Christmas on the mind, but the winter programme doesn’t come to an end just yet.

The slopestyle World Cup is on the radar of James Woods, in Font-Romeu, France, where he will be looking to follow up a victory he has already picked up at Cardrona earlier this season.

There is also plenty of ladies’ ski halfpipe action to enjoy, with Molly Summerhayes and Madi Rowlands among those looking to make their mark before the break.

Sportsbeat 2017

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