Welsh bobsleigher Bruce Tasker was back on the World Cup podium last weekend after helping the British 4-man team claim bronze at the World Cup race in Park City, Utah, USA.
Tasker was joined by pilot Brad Hall, Joel Fearon and Greg Cackett in becoming Britain’s first Bobsleigh World Cup medalists since John Jackson won silver alongside Tasker, Fearon and Stu Benson in Lake Placid in December, 2013.
Before that, you had to go back to 1997 to find another British Men’s Bobsleigh medal on the World Cup circuit, with that success coming when Sean Ollson guided GB to bronze in La Plagne the season before he won the same colour medal at the Nagano Olympics.
The bronze medal wasn’t the only reason for British bobsleigh to celebrate at the weekend as Lamin Deen, Ben Simons, Toby Olubi and Andrew Matthews ensured history was made when they took the final spot on the wider podium with a sixth-place finish in Utah.
“I genuinely believe this is a true reflection of how this team is,” said GB Bobsleigh Head Coach, Lee Johnston. “We have some of the best athletes in the world; we have two top drivers who are providing competition for each other; the mood is excellent and there is a great camaraderie in the camp.
“We had an awful day on Friday in terms of Brad missing the cut in the first race of the weekend so for him and his crew to bounce back says a huge amount about their character. We’ve still got work to do but we’re definitely making progress.
“One swallow doesn’t make a summer, but this is a big step towards where we want to be come the Olympics. I’ve been in the sport a long time and this is a pretty special day for the team.”
Hall, Tasker, Fearon and Cackett – who raced together for the first time at February’s World Championships and hadn’t competed together since – produced start times of 4.80 and 4.79 seconds as they finished just 12 hundredths of a second behind race winner Johannes Lochner of Germany in 1 minute 35.56 seconds over the two legs.
It marked a stunning turnaround for Hall after he missed the cut in the first of the double races on Friday night / Saturday morning when finishing 22nd on the same track. The former decathlete, whose first winter sports experience came with skeleton rather than bobsleigh, shaved an incredible 1.7 seconds of his Race 1 time when he completed his opening run of Race 2 in 47.37 seconds to lead at the halfway mark.
The 27-year-old only had four World Cup outings as a 4-man pilot to his name prior to this weekend, with his previous best being an eighth-place finish at the Olympic Test event in Pyeongchang in March of this year.
In the Women’s Bobsleigh, Mica McNeill and Mica Moore placed 13th in tough conditions as Jamie Greubel Poser won gold for the host nation.
There was good news for another potential Welsh Winter Olympian as Laura Deas claimed her second successive top five finish to move up to third place overall in the Women’s Skeleton World Cup rankings.
Having opened with a fifth place at Lake Placid, the Welsh slider finished ahead of team mate and reigning Olympic Champion Lizzy Yarnold at Park City, Utah. Yarnold was eighth this time having been third in the opening round.
Deas produced the joint quickest run of the day in Heat 2 as she moved up from seventh to fifth, just 16 hundredths of a second outside the medals in the second race of the Olympic season. The 28-year-old, who was ranked sixth in last season’s World Cup standings, now sits one place above Yarnold in the overall rankings ahead of this weekend’s race in Whistler, Canada.
After heavy snowfall saw the race postponed from the scheduled spot of Friday night, Deas clocked an overall time of 1 minute 40.88 seconds, with her second heat effort of 50.16 seconds only equalled by Russian race winner Elena Nikitina.
German duo Tina Hermann and Jacqueline Loelling – the 2016 and 2017 World Champions respectively – took silver and bronze, with Yarnold slipping back from fifth after the first run to finish with an overall time of 1 minute 41.31 seconds.