Loelling leads, with many close pursuers in women’s skeleton

February 16, 2018

Janine Flock of Austria finishes her first run during the women's skeleton competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — There’s a theory in sliding, one that suggests the winner of a test event on a newly built track dooms their chances of winning at the Olympics.

Jacqueline Loelling is halfway to disproving that.

Loelling, the German who not only won at the Alpensia Sliding Center last season but also won the overall World Cup title this season, is the leader after two runs of the women’s skeleton event at the Pyeongchang Games — albeit by almost the tiniest of margins.

Loelling’s time for two runs Friday was 1 minute, 43.86 seconds. That’s a mere 0.02 seconds ahead of Austria’s Janine Flock, and a pair of British sliders — defending gold medalist Lizzy Yarnold and Laura Deas — are also within less than two-tenths of Loelling’s time.

“I was thinking it would be very close,” Flock said.

She was right.

The men’s skeleton competition was a rout, with Yun Sungbin of South Korea dominating the field and winning by 1.63 seconds. The women’s race is far different, with eight sleds all within 0.60 seconds of the lead.

The final two heats are Saturday.

Yarnold is the only person in the 20-woman field to have an Olympic skeleton medal. She was the leader after the first run, though appeared a bit woozy afterward. But she went through the second run with no apparent problems.

The American duo of four-time Olympian Katie Uhlaender and Kendall Wesenberg didn’t get the starts they wanted. Uhlaender was 12th after the first two runs, Wesenberg 17th in her Olympic debut.

“I feel like I let everybody down,” Uhlaender said. “I’m in 12th. That’s not what I was expecting, at all. But maybe I can throw down tomorrow and see what I can do. God has me here for a reason. Why would I come to the Olympic Games and give up? That’s not the plan.”


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