A fairytale story may be unfolding in the women’s bobsled event with Aussie Bree Walker making a statement in Beijing.
Day nine of the 2022 Winter Olympics has been left in chaos as a result of extreme weather.
Thick clouds and dumping snow forced some of the biggest events of the day to be delayed, but there was no stopping Aussie Bree Walker on the bobsled track.
She has set herself up to snatch a medal on Monday after she completed her opening two runs in the women’s monobob event as the seventh overall ranked athlete.
She is just 0.7 seconds behind the German athlete sitting in the bronze medal position.
The former 400m hurdler has been in red hot form this season and her solid performances haven’t surprised anyone at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre near Beijing.
Her transition from summer competition to be an Olympian in a winter sport has captivated Australia — on the back of a promise she made to her parents at the age of three, promising to represent Australia at the Olympics.
“It’s an amazing story,” Channel 7’s Matt Carmichael told her at the end of her second run.
“We absolutely loved following your progress and to see you here in this event, it’s so special. It’s become a really special Australian sporting story Bree.”
Earlier, Louis Muhlen-Schulte dodged the dangerous conditions to finish his opening run in the men’s giant slalom ranked No. 32 overall.
The second run of the event was delayed because of the poor visibility caused by the stormy conditions.
The conditions also wreaked havoc in the women’s slopestyle event, featuring Aussie Abi Harrington. The event has been postponed until Monday.
It comes after Jackie Narracott claimed silver in the women’s skeleton on Saturday night.
Australia is officially in the middle of its most successful Winter Olympics in history.
The Aussies have secured four medals already, and there’s still a week of competition to go in Beijing.
Australia falls in love with Olympic champ
Jackie Narracott has defied the odds to secure Australia’s first ever sliding medal at the Winter Olympics, placing second in the women’s skeleton in Beijing on Saturday evening.
The 31-year-old Queenslander will return home with a silver medal around her neck after breaking the track record at Yanqing National Sliding Centre.
Narracott almost had a career-ending concussion scare after the 2018 Games in PyeongChang, which was followed by Covid-19 and move to the UK.
But the Aussie has shocked the world, putting together four superb runs to cement her name in the record books.
“It’s still so surreal,” Narracott said after the triumph.
“I just stayed in the moment, being calm and having fun. Everything just clicked.
“That’s the most relaxed I’ve felt on the sled, probably my whole career.
“I had nothing to lose. I knew that if I was just relaxed, and feel what I’ve been doing for the last three months, it would be OK.
“It was absolute elation. A little bit of disbelief.
“Words can’t describe it. We’ve never won a sliding sport medal, so for me to be it … Creating your dream twice in two races, it doesn’t get any better.
“The medal is a childhood dream come true, and then from a sliding point of view to be the first, we had some pretty good girls ahead of me which, without them, I wouldn’t be here. To be the first is pretty cool.
“It makes all the tears and all the questioning and all the hard work away from family absolutely worth it.
“I’m hoping it might get some more girls back into skeleton. We used to have a program, so to have some more back in and for it not to end with me would be absolutely unreal.”
Channel 7 presenter Mel McLaughlin tweeted: “My goodness. Silver and history for Jackie Narracott and Australia, that is unbelievable. Beautiful reaction from her, her family, her fellow Aussie athletes. Where to start with these Games-and how on earth to sleep?!”
Australian chef de mission Geoff Lipshut said: “It is remarkable. It’s just incredible. I can assure you there were many other predictions that people had about the skeleton event here in China and Jackie Narracott wasn’t one of them.”
Narracott’s father, Rodger, said: “This is beyond our wildest dreams. It is unbelievable. It was so lovely. She always had the potential to put down four consecutive runs and tonight she did it.”
Day 9 schedule (Aussies in action)
12.30pm – Bobsleigh, women’s monobob run 1 (Bree Walker)
1pm – Freestyle skiing, women’s freeski slopestyle qualification run 1 (Abi Harrigan)
1.15pm – Alpine skiing, men’s giant slalom run 1 (Louis Mehlen-Schulte)
2pm – Bobsleigh, women’s monobob run 2 (Bree Walker)
2pm – Freestyle skiing, women’s freeski slopestyle qualification run 2 (Abi Harrigan)
4.45pm – Alpine skiing, men’s giant slalom run 2 (Louis Mehlen-Schulte)
10pm – Freestyle skiing, women’s aerials qualification 1 (Laura Peel, Danielle Scott, Gabi Ash)
10.45pm – Freestyle skiing, women’s aerials qualification 2 (Laura Peel, Danielle Scott, Gabi Ash)
Sad twist to Russian Olympian’s doping saga
Reporters who broke the news of Russian skater Kamila Valieva’s positive drugs test claim to have been sent death threats at the Winter Olympics.
Duncan Mackay and Michael Pavitt from the Inside the Games website faced a barrage of anger when they reported the story on Wednesday, The Sun reports.
The pair were accused of lying and Russian media dismissed Valieva’s situation as having nothing to do with doping.
But the Independent Testing Agency (ITA) later confirmed the story was true on Friday.
Now Pavitt has told the Guardian that Mackay was subject to death threats while both have been the targets of ‘significant’ abuse.
Another British journalist was criticised by members of the Russian media and even politicians for asking Valieva if she was clean.
Svetlana Zhurova – a former Olympic speed skating champ and now a deputy of Russia’s State Duma – blasted the questioner and western media in general.
Olympic team rocked by shocking allegations
US snowboarders at the Beijing Olympics have strongly defended their long-serving head coach Peter Foley against “super upsetting” allegations of sexual misconduct and other inappropriate behaviour, saying the accusations damaged “team energy”.
US Ski and Snowboard is investigating claims made by Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, who competed at the 2010 Olympics, after she alleged in a series of Instagram posts that Foley had “taken naked photos of female athletes for over a decade”.
She alleged that Foley, who has served as the US head coach since 1994 and is currently with the team in Beijing, had made a sexual remark to her when she was only 17 in 2014.
“US Ski and Snowboard has been made aware of the recent allegations,” a statement read. “We take these allegations very seriously and the allegations are being investigated.”
Veteran American snowboarders Lindsey Jacobellis and Nick Baumgartner, who won gold in the inaugural mixed team snowboard cross event on Saturday, defended Foley while Baumgartner said he was “like a father” to him.
“It’s definitely been super upsetting to have that when we’re trying to focus and it definitely breaks up our team energy a little bit,” said the 36-year-old Jacobellis, who is competing at her fifth Olympics.
“Of my 20 years on the team, I can speak very highly of his character.”
– with AFP and The Sun