Team GB’s skeleton equipment has been panned by slider Matt Weston and the 2014 Winter Olympic bronze medallist John Jackson after another dismal day in the Yanqing National Sliding Centre.
Britain have won a skeleton Olympic medal at every Games since 2002, including three in Pyeongchang four years ago – thanks in part to a huge advantage in helmet, skin suit and sled technology.
But they are certain to go away empty handed this time after a shocking performance in both the men’s and women’s event. On Friday Weston and Marcus Wyatt finished 15th and 16th in the men’s competition, more than four seconds behind Germany’s gold medal winner, Christopher Grotheer.
In the women’s competition Pyeongchang bronze medallist Laura Deas and Brogan Crowley were also well off the pace in their first two runs, ending up 21st and 22nd respectively of the 25 competitors. Deas is already 1.8 seconds behind leader Jaclyn Narracott of Australia.
Deas said: “It’s certainly not the outcome I wanted. I came to the start block in a great frame of mind. I can’t tell you now why the speed wasn’t there. We’re going to have to go back and look at all of it and try and come back stronger tomorrow.”
Jackson, who won bronze in the four-man bobsleigh in 2014 and is now commentating for the BBC, said it was the equipment – and not the sliders – that was to blame. “This is what we have seen with the British equipment, it’s just absolutely draining speed all the way down. That is the problem Laura had. It’s a problem we have seen with the guys as well. This has been the feature of their season. This experience isn’t going well. It is going to be a tough Games for British skeleton.”
Weston concurred, saying: “I think there’s quite a few questions that need to be raised but equipment is definitely going to be one of them. Something’s not right. I couldn’t have done much more today. I’m really happy with how I slid. We’ve got to learn some lessons about what’s happened here. For the moment, it’s not where I want to be.”
The third and fourth heats of the women’s skeleton are at 12.20pm and 1.55pm UK time on Saturday.
There was a mixed day for Team GB’s men curlers in Beijing, as an 8-3 victory over Norway in Friday’s evening session made up for a 9-7 defeat by the US in the morning. After three days of competition the British curlers lie joint third in the standings. The team’s skip Bruce Mouat said he believed there was better to come from them, saying “this is only our second game in a few months, so [I’m] still getting back to playing with the boys and just need to figure out a few more things.”
The women’s curling team have given themselves little room for further error. A 9-7 defeat by South Korea means that they have only won one of their first three matches, with Eve Muirhead saying the loss was “a frustrating one to take. But we’ve got to move on, we’ve only played three games and we’ve been in this position before.” Their next match will be against an unbeaten United States team at 12.05pm (UK time) on Saturday.
Briton’s Andrew Musgrave and Andrew Young finished 46th and 51st in the men’s 15km classic cross-country skiing, which was won by Iivo Niskanen of Finland. Musgrave, who lives in Trondheim, Norway, said “It’s a tough sport at the best of times and today was not the best of times.”