Yun Sungbin Wins Skeleton Gold Medal at Winter Olympics 2018

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2018

Sungbin Yun of South Korea takes a curve during the men's skeleton competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Michael Sohn/Associated Press

Yun Sungbin wears Iron Man on his helmet, and he was the superhero in front of the home crowd in the men's skeleton competition at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. 

The South Korean star established himself as the one to beat in the first two runs and then captured the gold medal in runs three and four in the event that aired live Thursday night in the United States. Sungbin finished with a time of 50.18 seconds in the third run and 50.02 seconds in the fourth, bringing his cumulative time over the course of the entire competition to three minutes and 20.55 seconds.

Sungbin became South Korea's first Olympic medalist in a sliding sport—skeleton, bobsled and luge—and did it in style by winning gold in dominant fashion.

Olympic Channel @olympicchannel

It's another medal for the host country #KOR as Sungbin Yun takes #Gold in Men's #Skeleton at #PyeongChang2018. More here: https://t.co/mcdwDf3cBj https://t.co/KWRLonoP7d

Nikita Tregubov, an Olympic Athlete from Russia, captured silver with a cumulative time of three minutes and 22.18 seconds, while Great Britain's Dom Parsons took bronze at three minutes and 22.20 seconds.

Here is a look at the top finishers, per Olympic.org:


1. Yun Sungbin, Korea, 3:20.55

2. Nikita Tregubov, Olympic Athletes from Russia, 3:22.18

3. Dom Parsons, Great Britain, 3:22.20

4. Martins Dukurs, Latvia, 3:22.31

5. Tomass Dukurs, Latvia, 3:22.74

6. Kim Jisoo, Korea, 3:22.98

7. Axel Jungk, Germany, 3:23.60

8. Christopher Grotheer, Germany, 3:24.05

9. Alexander Gassner, Germany, 3:24.10

10. Jerry Rice, Great Britain, 3:24.24


All Sungbin had to do to take home the gold was avoid a disastrous finish after a commanding start.  

According to Liam Boylan-Pett of NBC Olympics, he set the track record with a time of 50.28 seconds in the opening run and then trimmed 0.21 seconds from that his second time around. As a result, he was a head-turning 0.74 seconds ahead of Tregubov.

That may not seem like much time, but it is an eternity in the skeleton when competitions often come down to the hundredth of a second.

Sungbin—who won the silver medal at Worlds in 2016—built on that and was an astounding 1.02 seconds ahead of Dukurs entering the last run and cruised to victory.

The real drama came in the race for the other two medals as Sungbin continued to pull further away from the rest of the field. Tregubov was in second after the first two runs with Martins Dukurs in third, but that quickly changed.

The Russian disappointed in the third run with a time of 50.53 seconds, allowing Dukurs (50.32) and Parsons (50.33) to leapfrog him. A mere 0.07 seconds separated the three heading into the last run with the silver and bronze hanging in the balance, and Tregubov responded with a clutch 50.56 to take home the silver.

Dukurs' 50.76 was just the fifth-best time in run four, allowing Parsons to hang on for a bronze.

While it was Parsons celebrating the bronze in Pyeongchang, American Matt Antoine was in that position in 2014 when he finished in third place in Sochi. However, he and fellow United States competitor, John Daly, were left looking up at the medal contenders Thursday and settled for 11th and 16th place, respectively.

Perhaps the best story outside of the race for the three medals was Ghana's first Olympic skeleton competitor, Akwasi Frimpong.

Boylan-Pett detailed Frimpong's story, noting he was born in Ghana, moved to the Netherlands when he was eight, was granted official residency there in 2008 and attempted to make the 2012 Olympic track team. However, an Achilles injury forced him to turn elsewhere, and he went out for bobsled before failing to make that team as well.

Rather than quit on his Olympic dream, he listened to his wife's encouragement and attempted skeleton—where he qualified for the Games and finished in 30th place as he built Olympic memories in Pyeongchang.

He and the rest of the field were left looking up at Sungbin, though, who thrilled the home fans and cruised to gold.


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