German skeleton stars grab silver and bronze, behind Britain | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 20.02.2010
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German skeleton stars grab silver and bronze, behind Britain

Germany had never won a medal in the skeleton event before, until Kerstin Symkowiak and Anja Huber grabbed silver and bronze, respectively, in Vancouver late on Friday. But the gold went to Britain's Amy Williams.

Kerstin Szymkowiak of Germany, right, is hugged by Anja Huber of Germany after Szymkowiak posted a good time, during the final run of the women's skeleton competition at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

Symkowiak, right, and Huber didn't really expect medals

Kerstin Symkowiak and Anja Huber have won Germany's first ever medals in the skeleton event, clinching silver and bronze in Vancouver late on Friday.

Their achievement is all the more impressive as it seemed impossible going into the final round. The Germans were fourth and fifth after three attempts, but both managed to leapfrog American Noelle Pikus-Pace and Canadian home favorite Mellisa Hollingsworth with solid times in the fourth, and final, round.

"I have worked long and hard towards this moment," Kerstin Symkowiak told reporters before receiving her medal. "I always knew that if I delivered four consistent runs, then anything was possible."

Symkowiak and Anja Huber are roommates at the Vancouver games, and celebrated raucously together after the surprise result.

"I've been on an emotional rollercoaster," Huber said. "After the third run I didn't believe it was possible anymore. Now I am speechless, and ecstatic!"

However, Germany's third hope, World Champion Marion Trott, disappointed. Trott was never amongst the front runners, and finished in eighth position, one-and-a-half seconds adrift of the gold medal time.

Kerstin Szymkowiak on the ice.

Skeleton is a rather new Olympic event, and it demands a lot of courage

"Here I failed to show what I'm really capable of," Trott lamented.

Historic gold

While the German women secured the country's first ever skeleton medals, Amy Williams won Britain's first gold medal in any individual Winter Olympics event since 1980.

Williams ended Britain's 30-year Winter Olympics drought with relative ease, leading from start to finish, and setting the fastest single time of the competition with her third run.

"I can't believe it is actually happening right now," Williams said. "I feel like I am in a little bubble, and I don't know if it is at all real."

Williams, however, was doubtful for the competition until the last minute. A protest over the special design of her helmet, which the US argued provided an illegal aerodynamic advantage, put Williams' Olympic fate in doubt. Organizers dismissed the appeal shortly before the competition began.

Skeleton - which is a head-first variation of the luge event - only became a medal-winning Winter Olympic discipline at Salt Lake City in 2002. Eight years and three Olympics later, Germany has now secured two medals in the event.

With four gold, five silver, and four bronze medals, Germany maintains second place in the medal tally in Vancouver, behind the United States. Norway is currently Germany's closest competitor, in third position.

msh/SID/DPA/Reuters
Editor: Nigel Tandy

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