With leader Aleksandr Tretiyakov and second-place Martins Dukurs comfortably holding gold and silver medal position after three runs, the fight in men’s skeleton was over who would be the first American to claim an Olympic medal since Jim Shea was golden at Salt Lake City more than a decade ago.
The fight went to Matt Antoine (pictured), who posted a 56.73-second final run at Sanki Sliding Center to secure the bronze behind “The Russian Rocket” and Latvia’s Dukurs.
Antoine’s teammate, John Daly, went before him and was running fourth going into his last run. But his sled got out of the groove at the start and went sideways on him.
Once on the sled, he went left and bumped into the wall nearby, effectively ending his bid for the podium. Daly logged a 58.54 on his final run, sending all the way down to 15th overall.
Meanwhile, Antoine has claimed a medal in his inaugural Olympics after missing out on Vancouver four years ago.
“I was in a position four years ago where I had a good chance to make the team and didn’t,” Antoine told NBC Olympics before Sochi.
“I had success the year prior to Vancouver, but since it was all new to me, I didn’t know how I did it or why I was doing well. I made a lot of mistakes going into the Olympic year…
“…There were hard lessons learned four years ago, but it’s what’s made me successful today.”
Tretiyakov, who won bronze four years ago in Vancouver, was world champion last year – the first from his country to pull off that feat.
Naturally, he received a massive cheer from the home fans at Sanki when he crossed the line to earn Russia’s fourth gold medal in Sochi and the country’s first-ever in men’s skeleton.
MEN’S SKELETON – FINAL
(Four-run aggregate time)
1. Aleksandr Tretiyakov (RUS), 3:44.29
2. Martins Dukurs (LAT), +0.81 seconds
3. Matt Antoine (USA), +2.97 seconds
15. John Daly (USA), +4.82 seconds