x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Bobsleigh crashes add to track fears

The two-man bobsleigh heats were marred by crashes involving the Canadian, Liechtenstein, British and Australian sleds, heightening concerns about the safety of the Whistler Sliding Centre track.

The Canada 1 bobsleigh comes to rest after flipping on the 13th turn at Whistler.
The Canada 1 bobsleigh comes to rest after flipping on the 13th turn at Whistler.

The two-man bobsleigh heats were marred by crashes involving the Canadian, Liechtenstein, British and Australian sleds, heightening concerns about the safety of the Whistler Sliding Centre track. The Canada 1 sleigh driven by Lyndon Rush with brakeman Lascelles Brown flipped while leading the competition in the second round. They came to grief at the infamous 13th turn, which has been nicknamed "50-50" by some drivers because that is reckoned to be the chances of coming through it unscathed.

Earlier, Switzerland's Beat Hefti, top-ranked in the world in the two-man, withdrew with a head injury after crashing in Wednesday's training. The track seems to be too scary for some drivers, including an American woman pilot who made her feelings known after training runs earlier Saturday. "You're standing at the top and you're thinking you're ready to vomit," said Bree Schaaf, the driver of USA3. "All the alarms are going through your head. It's like 'mayday, mayday,' but the maydays don't stop until [turn] 16." The German pairing of Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske led the field after the men's first two rounds.

Andrea Fischbacher swept to gold in the Alpine skiing Super-G and denied the American star Lindsey Vonn a speed event double on Whistler Mountain. Vonn, who won gold in the downhill, led when she clocked 1min 20.88sec, but Fischbacher negotiated the tricky course superbly to post a winning time of 1min 20.14sec and secure Austria's first Alpine gold of the Games. Slovenia's Tina Maze took a surprise silver and Vonn, who has the giant slalom and slalom to come, had to settle for a bronze. Holland's Mark Tuitert caused an upset in the men's 1500m speedskating, claiming the gold medal ahead of Shani Davis, the American favourite, . Tuitert, skating in the third last pairing, posted a time of 1min 45.57sec, and watched as the final two pairings failed to overhaul him. Apolo Anton Ohno's bronze in the men's 1000m speedskating final was his seventh Olympic medal, the most in the Winter Olympics for any American athlete. He overhauled another speed skater, Bonnie Blair.

Le Jung-Su took the gold for Korea in an Olympic record time of 1:23.747 and his countryman Lee Ho-Suk claimed silver in 1:23.801. Zhou Yang of China won gold in the women's short track speedskating 1500m in an Olympic record time of 2min 16.993sec. In the ice hockey men's preliminaries, Switzerland edged Norway 5-4 and Slovakia beat Latvia 6-0. * With agencies