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Dom Parsons slides into Olympics medal contention and downplays tech influence

UK & international sports | Published:

The Briton is 0.03 seconds behind bronze medal position at the halfway stage of competition at the Olympic Sliding Centre.

Dom Parsons could win Great Britain’s first medal of the Winter Olympics on Friday in the men’s skeleton (David Davies/PA Images)

Dom Parsons has downplayed the impact of the technological advances which have irked rival teams and helped him slide into Winter Olympics medal contention.

Parsons is 0.03 seconds behind bronze medal position at the halfway stage of the men’s skeleton competition, which began on Thursday after rivals questioned the legality of the skinsuits worn by Great Britain’s sliders.

South Korea’s Yun Sung-bin leads by a huge margin of 0.74 seconds with a total time of one minute 40.35 seconds after two runs.

Parsons was equal fifth after the first run and trailed Yun by 0.91secs overall after the second, 0.03 behind Latvia’s Martins Dukurs in bronze medal position.

The two concluding runs take place on Friday, when Parsons, ranked 12th in the world this season, could win a surprise first British medal of the Games.

Asked if the podium was within reach, Parsons said: “It’s what I’ve been aiming for for the last four years, so I hope so.

“But let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much. I’ll just focus on the next two runs.”

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The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation has approved the British skinsuits for competition.

And Parsons insisted sliding techniques have a greater influence than the aerodynamic improvements British sliders are benefiting from here and which have been the subject of rivals’ complaints.

Dom Parsons is aiming to improve his start to help his medal bid in Pyeongchang
Dom Parsons is aiming to improve his start to help his medal bid in Pyeongchang (David Davies/PA Images)

“It is a bit (like Formula One), obviously not with the same kind of budget or divas as some have a reputation for,” Parsons added.

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“The sliding element you can’t do that much. You stick a random guy off the street in an F1 car and he won’t even be able to get it started.

“Those little differences you can make in technology do have an impact.

“(But) things get exaggerated a lot more than is realistic. I don’t think it’s an arms race. It’s more that little extra edge.

Dom Parsons downplayed the advantages of technology, insisting the fundamentals are imperative
Dom Parsons downplayed the advantages of technology, insisting the fundamentals are imperative (David Davies/PA Images)

“I’m doing a lot of work with Kristan on sled set-up and runners and everything. And obviously we wouldn’t be doing that work if it didn’t make a difference.

“It’s not the difference between a huge margin. It’s just those little hundredths (of a second) everywhere that can hopefully add up to that gap between me and Martins, for example.”

Graphic looks at Team GB’s skin suit
Graphic looks at Team GB’s skin suit (Infographic from PA Graphics)

The 30-year-old twice clocked 4.88, conceding 0.20 and more to Martins Dukurs and wants to go a tenth of a second quicker on Friday.

“Having had a bit of pre-race tension coming into the first run, (I) over-drove a couple of bits, was a bit off line,” Parsons said.

“The second one was much tidier. (I am) a bit disappointed still. My push wasn’t quite where I want it to be.”

Yun dominated the World Cup circuit and it appears the race will be in the battle for silver and bronze, with Parsons very much in contention.

Nikita Tregubov of the Olympic Athletes of Russia is second, while fifth-placed Tomass Dukurs of Latvia trails Parsons by 0.20.

Home favourite Yun is far more familiar with the track than his rivals.

He set a track record on his first run of 50.28, going quicker still on the second run in finishing in 50.07.

Parsons expects the gold medal to be beyond him in comparing his pursuit to the 1996 Olympics 400m final.

Ghana's Akwasi Frimpong is 30th of 30 sliders at the halfway point in the men's skeleton
Ghana’s Akwasi Frimpong is 30th of 30 sliders at the halfway point in the men’s skeleton (David Davies/PA Images)

“Yun is in a league of his own at the moment and it’s his race to lose.”

Fellow Briton Jerry Rice was 12th after two runs, while Jamaica’s Anthony Watson and Akwasi Frimpong of Ghana were 29th and 30th of 30 sliders, respectively.

Defending champion Lizzy Yarnold and British team-mate Laura Deas begin their campaigns in the corresponding women’s event on Friday.

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