It proved to be a bitter sweet day for Lizzy Yarnold as she took victory in the final World Cup skeleton race of the season in Sochi, but missed out on the overall title by just 20 points.
Exactly one year to the day since claiming Olympic gold at the Sanki Sliding Center, Yarnold was back in Russia looking to retain the World Cup title she won last year.
She came into the race in plenty of form having won three out of the last four races but trailed Austria’s Janine Flock by 53 points.
Yarnold got off to the perfect start, posting 57.94 seconds in her first run to top the leaderboard while Flock could only manage tenth fastest with fellow Brits Rose McGrandle and Laura Deas third and fifth respectively.
Flock put in a much improved second run to pull herself up the leaderboard and put the pressure on the remaining sliders.
Deas could not maintain her challenge, finishing in ninth and when McGrandle, third last to go, experienced an error-strewn second run which left her down in 11th, Flock knew she would have enough points regardless to take the title.
Yarnold continued to push for the Sochi win though and took it by the narrowest of margins, denying home favourite Maria Orlova by 0.04 seconds while Germany’s Anja Huber Selbach took bronze in her last World Cup race.
Flock would finish in fourth leaving her on 1531 points, while Yarnold, who missed the second race of the season on medical grounds, was second on 1511, although she refused to be downbeat.
“I knew it would be a close battle for the title. I’m sure I have given everyone a bit of a heart attack but what a great competition between us,” she said.
“A big congratulations for Janine on the title, she deserves it.
“I do love this track, I have done quite a lot of runs here as we did 40 odd runs down here before the Olympics. Even though I made a few mistakes, I just relaxed down the track.”
© Sportsbeat 2015