Antoine claims men's skeleton Olympic bronze medal
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Antoine claims men’s skeleton Olympic bronze medal
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (Feb. 15, 2014)- Matt Antoine (Prairie du Chien, Wis.) laid down two flawless runs at the Sanki Sliding Center tonight to secure the men’s skeleton Olympic bronze medal. Antoine was in fourth after yesterday’s first two heats, and advanced 0.32 seconds ahead of Tomass Dukurs in the final run to claim a podium position.
“It’s unbelievable,” Antoine said. “It’s going to take some time to process it for sure, but it’s the greatest moment of my life without a doubt. I’ve been preparing for this moment, but it’s still just unreal right now.”
Antoine and teammate John Daly (Smithtown, N.Y.) were third and fourth, respectively, after the third heat, separated by just 0.04 seconds, making the race for bronze between the two best friends. Daly and Antoine have been in this position before, having battled one another in points for a spot on the 2010 Olympic team. It was Daly who earned an Olympic berth after winning six consecutive races on the Intercontinental and America’s Cup circuits. Daly was disappointed to finish 17th in Vancouver, and he vowed to dedicate another four years to perfecting his sport so he could get another chance to not only represent his country, but to vie for a medal.
While Antoine was heartbroken to miss the 2010 Olympics, he also dedicated another four years to the sport with the goal of medaling here in Sochi. Despite a few bumps along the way, including knee surgery before the 2012-2013 season, Antoine emerged as one of few athletes in the world that could challenge tour de force Martins Dukurs.
The bronze medal would be decided in the fourth and final heat. Daly was the first of the two to take his run. He burst off the starting block, but just before loading onto his sled, the sled popped out of the start groove. Daly scrambled to load, but the sled skid, bumped a wall and his chances of securing a spot on the medal stand fell away. He dropped into 15th with a four-run combined time of 3:49.11.
“I went for it, and I don’t regret going for it,” Daly said. “I do wish I had one more chance. The sole blame was on myself, there’s no one else to blame here but me. I know I left it all there, but I really do wish for the first time in my career that I had a second chance, and I didn’t have to wait four more years.”
Antoine heard the groans as he was walking to the start line and he said he knew something bad had happened. Coach Tuffy Latour reassured Antoine before he prepared for his final run in his Olympic debut, and Antoine took a deep breath before laying down a medal-winning run. He pumped his fists in the air as he crossed the finish line in 3:47.26 to secure bronze, and sought out his family and friends in the stands to celebrate.
Alexander Tretiakov and Martins Dukurs convincingly claimed gold and silver, respectively, with a dominant lead over the rest of the field. Tretiakov maintained his overnight lead to win Olympic gold in front of a hometown crowd with a combined time of 3:44.29. Latvian Dukurs, the World Cup points winner, finished 0.81 seconds behind Tretiakov for silver, but he was a distant 2.16 seconds ahead of Antoine.
“They pushed phenomenally well, they drove phenomenally well, and it really was a race between one of them,” Antoine said. “Realistically everyone knew we were racing for bronze, so hats off to them.”
As Antoine celebrated his performance during the flower ceremony, Daly walked through the media mixed zone. He paused after each sentence to collect himself, obviously heartbroken over his finish.
“I know I wouldn’t be as good as I am without Kyle and Matt,” Daly said. “If I had to pick anyone else to take my medal position, I’d pick one of those guys. It’s tears of sadness but it’s also tears of joy, because a guy I grew up with, a guy I slid with my entire career, my whole life, won a medal. I’m proud of him.
“The toughest part was, even though my family’s proud, I couldn’t even look at them at the bottom. It was hard for me, because I kind of just wanted to say hi to them. I knew they were proud of me, but I couldn’t even look up because it was too much at the time, and I’m kind of still struggling right now. It hasn’t truly hit me yet how much I lost.”
“My heart really goes out to John for the way that ended for him,” Antoine said. “We’ve pushed each other to be where we are for our entire career, and I don’t think either one of us would be where we are today, contending for a medal, if we hadn’t been supporting one another along the way.”
Kyle Tress (Ewing, N.J.) was in awe yesterday during his Olympic debut. He put together another great run today, but just missed qualifying for the final heat, which is reduced to the top 20 sleds. Tress finished 21st with a three run combined time of 2:53.74.
Tonight’s competition concludes skeleton Olympic competition. Bobsledders are next to take the ice, starting with the first two runs of the men’s two-man bobsled race tomorrow.
“We knew coming into this that this was our games, that we were going to put on a good show and medal,” Antoine said. “We still have bobsled to go, so I think it’s going to get even better.”
Please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-207-5040 with media inquiries.
1. Alexander Tretiakov (RUS) 3:44.29 (55.95, 56.04, 56.28, 56.02); 2. Martins Dukurs (LAT) 3:45.10 (56.18, 56.37, 56.26, 56.29); 3. Matt Antoine (USA) 3:47.26 (56.89, 56.95, 56.69, 56.73);…15. John Daly (USA) 3:49.11 (56.91, 56.67, 58.54);…21. Kyle Tress (USA) (57.85, 58.13, 57.76, DNS);
About the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation
The United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. The USBSF would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: BMW of North America, Century 21 Real Estate, CEVA Logistics, Under Armour, Kampgrounds of America, Boomerang Carnets, 24 Hour Fitness, KBC Helmets, Eastern European Distribution Company, Azad Watches, Latta USA, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Autism Speaks, Park City Lodging, Inc., EDAS/Ripxx, UberSense, Tesa Tape and Ferris Mfg. Corp. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at http://bobsled.teamusa.org.