Path to PyeongChang: 74 days to go
Winter Sports

Path to PyeongChang: 74 days to go

27 November 2017 / 12:28

Curling champions crowned and a hat-trick of silver medals made it another successful weekend for Team GB’s hopefuls as they look ahead to the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

Just 74 days remain until next year’s excitement, with qualification hopes and World Cup medals up for grabs as the countdown continues.

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

Muirhead lays down a marker in Switzerland

Safe in the knowledge their tickets are already booked on the flight to PyeongChang, Scotland’s curlers put on a show at the European Championships.

Progressing through the round robin phase in third place, both Scottish rinks faced home opposition in the semi-finals.

Team Muirhead overcame their Swiss opponents 7-5 with four stones in the final two ends, while Team Smith required two in the final end to make it to the final 9-8 – where both sides would face Sweden for the gold medals.

Saturday morning saw Muirhead lead her rink to a 6-3 victory with a single in each of the final three ends, and she is now looking ahead to PyeongChang with confidence.

"European champion sounds pretty nice. It's been a tough week and we've played really well," said Muirhead, who won her first European gold back in 2011.

"We've been working hard all season, and to come out on top and be European champions is really, really special.

The men could not quite match their team-mates’ achievement though, instead settling for silver in their first European final as Kyle Smith overshot a draw for a single that would have taken the final into an extra end.

Team Deen slide to silver

You wait four years for a bobsleigh World Cup medal to come along, then two appear in the space of a week!

Last week it was Brad Hall who claimed bronze in Park City, while Lamin Deen finished sixth to make it two British sleds in the top ten of the four-man.

This weekend, in Whistler, the pilots again both finished in the top ten, but switched places as Hall slid into ninth while Deen and co grabbed silver – Britain’s best bobsleigh World Cup result since John Jackson won silver at Lake Placid in 2013.

Deen also set a track record in his first run, touching speeds of 97mph, and with Hall equalling his best ever two-man finish with 13th on Friday and Mica McNeill guiding the two-woman sled to fifth, head coach Lee Johnston was understandably pleased with the weekend’s work.

“I’ve been in this sport nearly 25 years and this weekend is right up there with anything I’ve experienced,” he said.

“In two days of racing in Whistler we’ve won a silver medal, broken a long-standing track record, had two sleds in the top ten again, recorded our best women’s result for nearly nine years and seen Brad equal his best two-man finish of his career. The level keeps lifting.”

Summerhayes ends her drought

Four years on from her last World Cup medal, Katie Summerhayes was finally back on the medal podium.

The 22-year-old matched her achievement from Gstaad, in January 2014, with silver at the Stubai slopestyle World Cup.

Scoring 77.00 points, Summerhayes was three shy of Swedish teenager Jennie-Lee Burmansson, while her British team-mate Izzy Atkinson finished seventh on 56.40, while Madi Rowlands just missed out on qualifying for the final.

"It's been a tough couple of years, but I am so happy to have come back and that my skiing feels the best it has ever felt,” said Summerhayes.

"I am really happy to be on the podium.

"I can’t thank Pat [Sharples] and everyone at GB Park and Pipe enough for all the support."

Yarnold frustrated in Whistler

Reigning Olympic champion Lizzy Yarnold will hope to forget her Whistler weekend in a hurry after a mistake in her first run left her 23rd overall and missing out on a second run.

Meanwhile, fellow Brit Ashleigh Pittaway qualified for a second World Cup run for the first time in her young career – the 17-year-old eventually finishing 19th.

While Laura Deas came home 11th and lies sixth in the overall World Cup standings, with Yarnold in tenth.

In the men’s event Dom Parsons was the highest placed Brit in 13th, with Jack Thomas six places further back and Jerry Rice in 23rd.

Musgrave on the up in Ruka

Sochi 2014 Olympian Andrew Musgrave improved as the weekend went on in Finland, recovering from an expectedly tricky start in Friday’s sprint at the Ruka Triple cross-country event.

Finishing 81st was not what the 27-year-old would have hoped for, but the Brit’s preference for endurance racing shone through in the next two days of competition.

Up to 39th after Saturday’s 15km classic interval start, Musgrave again shot up the leaderboard during Sunday’s 10km freestyle pursuit – eventually finishing 28th to leave him 32nd in the overall World Cup and 26th in the distance standings.

Tilley impresses in season debut

AlexTilley3200SB17 - Vanessa Fry Photography

Competing in her first World Cup of the season, 24-year-old Alex Tilley started with a bang – skiing into ninth place after the first run of the giant slalom in Killington.

She slipped back to 21st place after the second and final run, just two places shy of her best ever giant slalom World Cup result, set back in 2015.

The week ahead

Britain’s alpine skiers will be on show in Lake Louise and Beaver Creek, this week, with women’s downhill and Super G in Canada, while America plays host to downhill, Super G and giant slalom.

Big Air also returns to the schedule this weekend, with Moenchengladbach playing host to the ski event on Friday, with the snowboard competition taking place the following day.

Musgrave will be hoping to show more of his distance skiing capabilities with a skiathlon in Lillehammer on Sunday, following on from Friday’s sprints. 

Sportsbeat 2017

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