Medal Count for 2010 Olympics: Day Eight Round-Up, Britannia Rules The Slides
The United Kingdom earned its first individual gold in 30 years (in the ladies' skeleton event) on the eighth day of competition.
In total, 12 medals were awarded to 10 nations. The United States remains first in the overall table, with 20 medals—7 ahead of Germany.
In the ladies' 15-km cross country pursuit, Norwegian Marit Bjørgen continued her edifying form to become the first woman from her country to claim more than one gold in a single Olympics—overall her third medal at the Vancouver Games.
The 29-year-old's finish time of 39.58.1 was 8.9 seconds faster than Sweden's Anna Haag. Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk added bronze to her individual sprint classic silver.
Bjørgen's performances have arguably rehabilitated her relationship with the Olympics, which was undermined after disappointment and illness at the Turin Games.
At the Whistler Creekside, the men's Super-G commenced with further anticipation of American success, while Switzerland hoped that Didier Cuche could remedy his surprise omission from the downhill podium.
Unfortunately for Switzerland, although well represented in the top ten, neither Cuche or Didier Defago—who was an unexpected gold medallist in the downhill—medaled.
Instead, Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal—who obtained silver in the downhill—surpassed American Bode Miller with an emphatic time of 1.30.34. His excellent performance gave him a time difference of 0.28 seconds over Miller.
National woe on the piste also continued for Austria and Canada, whose medal prospect, Manuel Osborne-Paradis, again faltered with a minor crash after an unconvincing start. For Austria, the lacklustre displays of its skiers ensured that it would be the first time since 1994 that its skiers have failed to medal in the discipline.
Svindal's victory gave Norway its third consecutive gold in the event and its fourth overall since its admission as an Olympic sport for the 1988 Calgary Games.
Bode Miller, whose meritorious performance in the downhill earned bronze, was once more in the equation and had displaced compatriot Andrew Weibrecht from first. Weibrecht would retain third to achieve a surprising bronze.
There was a prolonged delay in the proceedings after Sweden's veteran, 40-year-old Patrik Järbyn, struck a gate and was lifted violently into the air.
There was palpable concern for the skier, whose array of broken bones are suggestive of a man composed of steel. He was evacuated from the course via helicopter as a standard precautionary measure.
Fortunately, however, it was later announced that he had suffered no major injury, despite being briefly unconscious after the horrendous crash.
At the Whistler Sliding Centre, skeleton competitor Amy Williams collected the United Kingdom's first Olympic gold in eight years (when the women's curling team defeated Switzerland in the 2002 Games) to considerable acclaim back in Britain.
It was only Britain's third Olympic gold in 26 years, when the country's succession of golds ended with the famed Torvill and Dean partnership at the 1984 Sarajevo games.
Williams, born in Cambridge, also became the first British woman to win an individual gold since figure skater Jeannette Altwegg did so at the 1952 Games, among other notable distinctions for the 27-year-old.
The Briton, who appeared exceptionally relaxed in the final run, maintained her lead through the event's four heats and attained gold with an overall time of 3.35.64 and a lead of 0.56 seconds—significant within the context of skeleton.
Her command of the course proved to be unequalled, with few appearing to credibly threaten her in the heats.
Germany's Kerstin Szymkowiak and Anja Huber perpetuated Germany's flourish at the sliding centre with silver and bronze, respectively.
Errors in the run of Canada's World Cup champion Mellisa Hollingsworth denied the hosts what have been the country's first medal at the Whistler Sliding Centre.
Despite those errors, Canadian officials subsequently issued a formal protest relating to the helmet used by Williams. The appeal was promptly rejected by the International Bobsleigh Federation.
Williams' teammate, Shelly Rudman, who claimed an unexpected silver in 2002, placed a respectable sixth.
The BBC'S promotion of Williams in the immediate prelude to the skeleton's third heat raised expectation, with recurring emphasis on the country's medal prospects using the prophetic headline "The Gold Rush".
After Williams claimed gold, the network's commentators, in understandably exuberant spirit, urged viewers to participate in the sport, noting that it was an event in which Team GB could "rule the world".
British support among the watching spectators was typically boisterous and extrovert, which only encouraged further commentary ebullience.
In the past decade, it has becoming increasingly conventional for British sporting success—expected or otherwise—to be rewarded with bountiful adulation and government recognition.
It seems more than plausible that an MBE or even "damehood" awaits Williams, á la her Summer Games compatriots Rebecca Adlington and Kelly Holmes.
For Williams, whom commentator Paul Dickenson conferred the appellation "Queen of Speed," the exhilaration of the course and ensuing gold was sufficient gratification.
In the men's version, Canada's Jon Montgomery emulated his predecessor, Duff Gibson, to secure Canada's second consecutive gold in the event with an overall time of 3.29.73.
He led in three of the four heats to become the first Canadian to medal at the maligned Whistler Sliding Centre.
Pre-race favourite, Latvia's World Cup champion Martins Dukurs, placed second with a time difference of +0.07. Russian Alexander Tretyakov held off Dukurs' brother, Tomass, to earn bronze.
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