Skeleton is almost always one of the most exciting events of the Winter Olympics, and that was no different at Sochi in 2014.
The men’s final took place on Saturday, with 20 elite participants advancing through four dangerous heats with a chance to bring gold and glory back to their home country.
After all was said and done, Alexander Tretiakov of host Russia emerged victorious and stood tall at the top of the podium on Day 8 of the Winter Games. His overall time of 3 minutes, 44.29 seconds was simply too quick and left the rest of the field in the dust.
This was Tretiakov's second-straight medal in the skeleton event at the Winter Olympics, as he earned bronze in Vancouver four years ago. He is also coming off a top finish in the World Championships:
#sochi2014: Tretiakov (RUS) is the first to win OWG gold in men's skeleton as the reigning world champion in this event.— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaGold) February 15, 2014
Latvia’s Martins Dukurs and Matthew Antoine of the United States earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, for their strong performances, leaving American John Daly off the podium.
Let’s take a look at all the scores from the men’s skeleton final, plus recap the best runs of the bunch.
Tretiakov’s series of runs was as impressive as they come. The Russian’s best showing came in the first heat, when he set the pace for the remainder of the competition and finished the course in a blistering time of 55.95 seconds.
It proved to be instrumental in his gold-medal push, as the 28-year-old finished ahead of this next participant by 0.81 seconds compiled over the course of all four heats.
Dukurs’ silver-medal performance was definitely a memorable one, especially when he zipped down the track in the fourth heat. He went from start to finish in 56.74 seconds with gold on his mind, but ultimately came up just short.
Antoine’s total time of 3:47.26 was just good enough to put him on the podium with a bronze medal, helping keep the United States near the top of the overall standings with yet another medal in Sochi.
Fellow American John Daly was in prime position to battle his teammate for bronze, but he struggled with his alignment from the get-go in his final run, finishing in 58.54 seconds for 15th place.
Daly was disappointed with his run but not deterred, telling Jay Busbee of Yahoo Sports that he has four years to dwell on it:
John Daly on skeleton failure: "I had a mile of ice to think about what happened, and now I have four more years to wait."— Jay Busbee (@jaybusbee) February 15, 2014
Daly may not have medaled, but it seems the 28-year-old slider stands by his decision to “put off the real world” and enjoy life. Instead of finishing college, working and retiring at some point after the age of 50, he told Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today that he’d rather enjoy himself while he’s young:
I think doing what you want when you're 20 to 30 years old is a lot more fun than 50-60. If I had to pick 10 years of my life to do whatever I want, I'd pick 20 to 30. You get to travel the world and race down a hill on a sled.
John Fairbairn is another performer who failed to medal but made shockwaves with his helmet. The Canadian came in seventh place with an overall time of 3.48:13, but ignited social media with the human brain he emblazoned on his headwear.
Sportswriter Stephanie Gutowski handed him the best helmet award, so at least he has that going for him:
Both the men’s and women’s skeleton events have concluded at the 2014 Winter Olympics. It’s now time for fans of this extreme sport to turn their attention to the 2014-15 World Cup, which will begin later in the year.
Will you follow skeleton outside of the Olympics?
Latvian star Dukurs, 29, is the four-time defending champion on the men’s side, while Lizzy Yarnold, 25, of Great Britain was able to best the field in the women’s singles at the last World Cup.
Both Yarnold and Dukurs parlayed their success in the World Cup into Olympic glory with podium finishes. They also have a chance to continue that run into next year’s World Cup, and the pair could be on top of this sport for some time to come.
Yarnold and Dukurs are regarded as two of the sports’ best competitors and should be medal favorites when the Winter Olympics come back around in 2018, although it will be the Latvian's last hurrah at age 33.
Gold medalist Tretiakov also figures to contend for a medal place, although given his form outside of Russia, it's hard to see him snagging a second straight gold.
As for the Americans, John Daly may have missed his opportunity to medal, although he hasn't given up just yet. When 2018 rolls around, he'll be 32, in the twilight of his career, making his miss here even harder for him to swallow. Likewise, Antoine will likely be taking part in his last Olympics in Pyongyang.