Hannah Neise has never won a World Cup medal. Or a medal at the world championships. Or a medal from the European championships.
She now has an Olympic medal.
And it’s the one everyone wants.
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Skeleton has a new champion, and she was a bit of a surprise winner. Neise, the 21-year-old who won the world junior title last year, became the first German woman to win Olympic skeleton gold by rallying to the final two rounds of the Beijing Games on Saturday.
His four-run time was 4 minutes, 7.62 seconds. Jaclyn Narracott of Australia — the halfway point leader — won the silver medal in 4:08.24 and overall World Cup champion Kimberley Bos of the Netherlands won the bronze medal in 4:08.46.
Neise’s victory may have been a bit of a surprise, but at this point, nothing Germany does on this track should be so surprising. After six sliding events at the Beijing Games — four in luge, two in skeleton — the Germans won six gold medals.
Oh, and all they have in the remaining four bobsleigh races – two for the men, two for the women – are reigning Olympic champion riders in Francesco Friedrich and Mariama Jamanka.
Tina Hermann of Germany was fourth and Mirela Rahneva of Canada, the first run leader, was fifth.
Neise’s win capped a year that was unpredictable in women’s skeleton from the start. There have been eight World Cup races before the Olympics, with five different winners and 11 different medalists – Neise not being one of them.
But there was a big hint that she might wrestle in the Olympics. There was a pre-season race at Yanqing Sliding Center after three weeks of international training this fall, and Neise finished second in that event.
Clearly, she picked up some things on the new lead faster than most others.
Katie Uhlaender, competing in her fifth Olympic Games, was the top American and finished sixth in 4:09.23. Uhlaender strained a muscle in her side before competing on Saturday and still moved up two places from where she was after the first two runs of Friday’s competition.
It was the first time in six women’s Olympic skeleton competitions that a Briton failed to make the podium. Alex Coomber won bronze in 2002, Shelley Rudman won silver in 2006, Amy Williams won gold in 2010, Lizzy Yarnold won gold in 2014 and 2018 and Laura Deas also won bronze there is four years old.
Deas was the best British slider in this race, finishing 20th.
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Narracott’s medal, however, had a very British touch – and that has nothing to do with Queen Elizabeth II remaining head of state in 15 Commonwealth countries, including Australia. Narracott spends the season traveling and training with the British team, and her husband is retired British skeleton athlete and 2018 Olympic bronze medalist Dom Parsons.
Narracott was great.
Neise was just better. And the world’s most accomplished sliding nation continues to dominate the Beijing Games.