Crash stops GB team lining up for bobsleigh opener
By Stuart Laundy - Senior Reporter
THE GB four-man bobsleigh team featuring Middleton-in-Teesdale’s Alan Toward failed to make it to the start line for the opening event of the season at the weekend.
Twenty-four hours before the four-man event at Lillehammer, pilot Brad Hall was involved in a crash while taking part in the two-man race with brakeman Sam Blanchet.
The pair came a cropper on the 14th corner and although they made it to the finish line, they ended up in 21st place and didn’t quality for the second run.
While both Hall and Blanchet did not suffer serious injury in the crash, they opted not to compete in the following day’s four-man.
Instead they, and the rest of the team, opted in favour of rest and recovery ahead of 12 days’ training and racing in Altenberg, Germany in the next two weeks.
Despite the setback, the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association (BBSA) insisted it wasn’t all bad news as Hall and Blanchet recorded the joint third fastest time off the top in a big field in Norway. Blanchet, a former England Rugby Sevens cap, hadn’t competed since 2018 after a nasty injury prompted him to take a year-and-a-half out of the sport but he showed he is in impressive condition ahead of the next three races in Germany in the lead up to Christmas.
Meanwhile, the now retired Barnard Castle bobsleigh racer has John Jackson finally received his 2014 Sochi Olympics bronze medal along with team mates Joel Fearon, pilot Bruce Tasker and Stu Benson. The crew had originally finished fifth in the event, but the first and fourth-placed Russian crews were subsequently disqualified for doping offences and the GB quartet promoted to third.
They received the medals at the Olympic GB Ball last week.
Mr Jackson said: “On stage there was a lot of emotion.
“As a team we’re just glad to be getting this award.
“I’m quite an emotional bloke when you strip everything away. It may not have been that Olympic moment but it’s our moment.”