Germany extended their historic sliding dominance at the Beijing Games with a one-two finish in the women’s bobsleigh to finish ahead of the United States’ Elana Meyers Taylor, who took bronze to become the most decorated Black athlete in Winter Games history in what may be her final race.
Again there was disappointment for Great Britain after Mica McNeil and Montell Douglas finished a lowly 17th on the day when the men’s curlers narrowly missed out on gold.
Laura Nolte held off defending Olympic champion and countrywoman Mariama Jamanka to capture a record-extending eighth sliding gold for the German team, who have swept all four luge and both skeleton events in addition to the two-man and two-woman bobsleigh on the sparkling new course nestled in the tree-lined southern foot of Xiaohaituo Mountain.
Nolte, who became the youngest ever female Olympic medallist in bobsleigh, paired with brakewoman Deborah Levi to clock a four-run combined time of 4min 03.96sec, a yawning 0.77sec faster than Jamanka and Alexandra Burghardt.
“I’ve never had this feeling before,” the 23-year-old Nolte said. “It’s like we are drunk, but we’re not. We’re just drunk on happiness.”
The 37-year-old Meyers Taylor, who won the silver in the Olympic debut of monobob earlier this week before hinting at possible retirement, came in 1.52sec off the pace alongside Olympic debutante Sylvia Hoffman to earn a fifth career medal and eclipse speed skater Shani Davis’s mark for most won by an athlete of colour.
“There’s a lot of people that came before me,” Meyers Taylor said. “[2002 Olympic gold medalist] Vonetta Flowers is the reason I’m here, and Shani Davis and even [US speed skater] Erin Jackson. It’s just been such a long legacy of Black athletes at the Winter Olympics and hopefully it just continues.”
She added: “We want everybody to come out regardless of the colour of your skin.
“We want winter sports to be for everybody, regardless of race, regardless of socio-economic class. I think the more diversity we have, the stronger our sport can be. So hopefully this is just the start of more and more people coming out and trying winter sports.”
Meyers Taylor will take a far more leisurely trip on Sunday night when she carries the US flag into the Bird’s Nest for the closing ceremony, an honour she was forced to cede after testing positive for Covid-19 on arrival at Beijing, which kept her apart from her two-year-old son longer than ever before.
Three-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries, who captured two-woman golds with Canada in 2010 and 2014 before joining the US team in 2019, dropped from fifth at the halfway stage to seventh overall after winning a third career gold in Monday’s monobob – the lone sliding event of nine in Yanqing that hasn’t gone to the Germans. “It hurts, I won’t lie,” said Humphries, who was denied in her bid to join Germany’s Kevin Kuske and Andre Lange as the only bobsleighers to win four Olympic golds but confirmed her intent to come back for the Milan Cortina Games in 2026, when she will be 40.
“I gave every ounce of everything I had to the last two days and it wasn’t there.
“I’m proud of the work that we put in and what we put into it. It sucks and it’s infuriating to know that it wasn’t good enough, but at the end of the day, that’s racing.”
Team GB’s Brad Hall piloted his four-man Great Britain team to within 0.31sec of a rare Olympic medal, bouncing back nicely after crashing dramatically on the penultimate run of the two-man competition on Tuesday. Hall, Greg Cackett, Nick Gleeson and Taylor Lawrence were in sixth place at the halfway stage, 0.69sec behind the first of two German teams atop the leaderboard with Canada’s Justin Kripps sitting third.
“Couple of mistakes on the first run,” Hall said. “It wasn’t a bad performance. Sitting in sixth place, I’m quite content with that.”
Britain’s four-man bob in action. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock
The 31-year-old from Cardiff, who has reached three podiums in the discipline on the World Cup circuit this season, has marshalled a largely self-funded campaign to Beijing after UK Sport controversially defunded Team GB’s bobsleighers three years ago despite the country’s best ever women’s bobsleigh result in Pyeongchang.
Hall’s four-man team enter Sunday’s final runs in the hunt for Britain’s second four-man medal in 58 years – and first since John Jackson was awarded a retrospective bronze in 2014. “It’s a pretty difficult thing for us to do, work out what’s best,” Hall said.
“We’re just one team. When you’re looking at competing against the Germans, there’s three of them.
“They’ve got three times the amount of runs to test everything, find the best way down the track and what best equipment works as well. We’re against it, we’ve got a lot less resources to pull upon, but we’ve just gone with what we know and [we’ll] see where it turns out.”