Winter Olympics 2022 - Laura Nolte re-establishes German sliding dominance with 2-woman bobsleigh gold
Germany have won all but one of the sliding titles at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, after pilot Laura Nolte and Deborah Levi comfortably won the two-woman bobsleigh ahead of fellow Germans and 2018 champion Mariama Jamanka. American Elana Meyers Taylor picked up the fifth Olympic medal of her career with bronze, while Britain’s Mica McNeill and Montell Douglas finished 19th.
Germany's Laura Nolte (R) and Deborah Levi celebrate after winning the gold medal in the final run in the 2-woman bobsleigh event at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games
Normality resumed in the Winter Olympic sliding events in Beijing, as Germany’s Laura Nolte guided her sled to gold in the two-woman bobsleigh.
Leading from start to finish, she teamed up with Deborah Levi to beat PyeongChang 2018 champion Mariama Jamanka by a huge margin of 0.77 seconds, with Elana Meyers Taylor taking bronze for the USA - her fifth Olympic medal.
A disappointing campaign for Britain’s Mica McNeill and Montell Douglas ended with their best heat to finish 17th.
Nolte, the world bronze medallist, went into day two half a second up on her German team-mate Jamanka, with Meyers Taylor 0.24s further back. But Christine de Bruin was also a contender for Canada, as was Canadian-turned-US great Kaillie Humphries.
As the leader, she was first out for heat three. She flew out from the start with a clean run to set a new track record of 1:00.70, which was going to make her sled incredibly difficult to beat.
Jamanka, teaming up with Alexandra Burghardt, also produced her quickest run, but she had fallen back to 0.78 seconds behind Nolte by the time she crossed the finish line. It was enough to hold off the challenge from Meyers Taylor and Sylvia Hoffman though and the American also fell further back from the Germans.
De Bruin was not able to challenge the podium spots, meaning the top three were all-but secure barring a disaster in the final run.
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McNeill and Douglas performed well below expectations on day one and it did not go much better on the second, with errors in the first couple of turns, meaning they were not able to move up from second bottom.
But the British pair saved their best run for last, and it meant they were able to move up the standings slightly, by two places.
At the top of the standings, Humphries struggled with her last run, with the Swiss team led by Melanie Hasler finishing above her. Another German pair, piloted by Kim Kalicki, went into top spot with four to go.
De Bruin had a small chance of trying to get into the top three and she started well but the Canadian was losing speed, and ended behind Kalicki, meaning only Meyers Taylor could deny a German clean sweep.
Her sled’s start is their strength and they began well. The American drove solidly and was almost a full second above Kalicki at the halfway point. Meyers Taylor lost a bit of time but she guaranteed herself a medal to cross the line with a huge celebration.
Jamanka needed the run of her life and a slice of luck to go her way to win a second successive gold. She easily went above Meyers Taylor to secure at least silver with Burghardt, who also competed at Tokyo 2020 as a sprinter.
Realistically, they needed to have a big crash to be denied victory and despite a few knocks here and there, Nolte crossed the line 0.77 seconds ahead of Jamanka, leaping out of the sled with Burghardt and screaming with delight to win their first Olympic medal.
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