Bet you didn’t think I could get this many blog posts about a single race, did you? I wasn’t expecting this one either, but you can thank some schoolchildren.
On the official, published schedule, there is supposed to be a single medals ceremony for each day of competition, held 15 minutes after the conclusion of the last race. However, on the day I attended, there were three different groups of schoolchildren visiting. Their buses brought them to the Olympic Sports Complex at around lunchtime (because Lake Placid is a really long way from anywhere), and they would have to leave after the first run of women’s bobsled. The race organizers got a few of the USABS athletes (three women and one man) to do an autograph signing for the kids, and they moved up the medals ceremony for the morning’s race — women’s skeleton, as chronicled in the three previous posts — so that the children would also get to see the presentation.
Throughout the whole competition I was blown away by how close the spectators were able to get to the athletes. Yes, a bobsled track isn’t that wide, but I was honestly expecting the whole trackside to be cordoned off for VIPs and sponsors. I certainly was not expecting to be having breakfast with the Austrian bobsled team — and I definitely wasn’t expecting to be nearly tripping over a Russian slider’s backpack as athletes and spectators mingled with schoolkids eating lunch in the runup to the medal presentation. You’ll see what that was like in these photos. (I should point out that there was a “VIP lounge” that I did not know about, and to which I was denied access when I walked up to the doorway in search of a toilet.)
This is where things get a little weird. If you’ve watched any kind of international sport at all, you’ve undoubtedly seen a medals ceremony before: the top three athletes get the bronze, silver, and gold medals. This one was different, because they gave medals to the top six athletes, although there wasn’t anything I could see that distinguished the medals given to the fourth, fifth, and sixth-place women. I couldn’t tell what material they were made of, either. But they were all introduced and got up on the special wide podium, in the following order:
- Jane Channell (CAN)
- Laura Deas (GBR)
- Elena Nikitina (RUS)
- Lizzy Yarnold (GBR)
- Elisabeth Vathje (CAN)
- Janine Flock (AUT)
I’ll be back soon (hopefully) with photos from the women’s and two-man bobsled races.