Friday, February 26, 2010

Winter Olympics: McGarry 50th in GS

Ireland's Kirsten McGarry finished 50th of 60 competitors in the women’s giant slalom at a foggy Whistler Creekside track. She improved her overnight position by five places with a much improved run of 1:20.92 (9.55 secs slower than the winner. In her firsts run McGarry was placed 55th with a time of 1:24.28 (9.16 secs behind the winner). Her combined time of 2:45.20 put her 18 seconds behind the surprise winner Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany. Eight skiers crashed out of the competition.
* A day later, McGarry's Winter Olympics ended on a sour note when she was disqualified from the slalom after one of her skis was judged to be one millimetre too thick.

Despite the foggy conditions, she had completed her first run in a time of 59.28 seconds, but the judges' ruling means no participation in the second run.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Winter Olympics: Irish Bobsled 17th

The Ireland women's bobsleigh team have finished a creditable 17th of the 21 teams who took part at the Winter Olympic games in Vancouver.
Aoife Hoey and Claire Bergin moved upthe rankings on their thrid and fourth runs at the lightning fast Whistler track. They completed thier series with a time of 54.58 for their final run, picking up time on the final few bends. Their run times were 55.4, 54.49, 54.73 and 54.58 (total time 3:38.85 - 6.56 secs down on the winners) and they attained speeds of up to 142.4kph. They also managed conistent good start times of 5.44.
Behind them came Russia and Australia - the team that had tried to have the Irish bob knocked out of the competition. Crashing out were GB 1 and Ger2. Canada won the gold with a total time of 3:32.28.
The pair had survived two legal bids to have them removed from the competition in favour of teams from Australia and Brazil in a geographical dispute.

“We’re thrilled to finish 17th and will hold our heads up high in the knowledge we did our best for our country on what was the fastest and toughest track we have ever encountered,” said Hoey.

“The atmosphere at the track was awesome. We decided to go for broke on each run but being careful not to crash. After all the legal fuss before the competition, we feel vindicated with the results achieved here,” she added.

The Australians were eliminated after the third heat. “I’m so happy we got to do the fourth run. The support we had here is fantastic, " said Bergin.

“It’s been a rollercoaster ride, I guess. Nothing can replace being at the Olympic Games.”

Winter Olympics: Bobsledders Lie 20th

Aoife Hoey and Claire Bergin lay 20th of the 21 teams after the first two heats of the women’s bobsleigh last night. The Irish pair are over three seconds down on leaders Canada at the midway stage.
A sluggish first heat found Hoey and Bergin last in the standings although they improved marginally on their second run.
Australia, whose appeal had threatened Ireland’s involvement before the Games, is 0.02 seconds ahead of the Irish bob in 19th place.
Canada's Kaillie Humphries set a new track record of 53.19 on her first slide and followed that with an even faster time of 53.01. She leads the field by 0.13 seconds going into tonight’s final two runs.
Germany's reigning Olympic champion and gold medal favourite Sandra Kiriasis could only manage fifth place on the lightning fast track.
After two heats:
1 Kaillie Humphries, Heather Moyse (Can) 1 min 46.20 secs (53.19 secs & 53.01 secs), 2 Erin Pac, Elana Meyers (USA) 1:46.33 (53.28 & 53.05), 3 Romy Logsch, Cathleen Martini (Ger) 1:46.60 (53.28 & 53.32), 4 Shelly-Ann Brown, Helen Upperton (Can) 1:46.62 (53.50 & 53.12), 5 Christin Senkel, Sandra Kiriasis (Ger) 1:46.64 (53.41 & 53.23), 6 Michelle Rzepka, Shauna Rohbock (USA) 1:47.09 (53.73 & 53.36), 6 Emily Azevedo, Bree Schaaf (USA) 1:47.09 (53.76 & 53.33), 8 Janine Tischer, Claudia Schramm (Ger) 1:47.22 (53.65 & 53.57), 9 Esme Kamphuis, Tine Veenstra (Ned) 1:47.40 (53.81 & 53.59), 10 Nicola Minichiello, Gillian Cooke (Gbr) 1:47.58 (53.85 & 53.73), 11 Paula Walker, Kelly Thomas (Gbr) 1:47.77 (54.19 & 53.58), 12 Anastasia Skulkina, Yulia Timofeeva (Rus) 1:48.02 (54.38 & 53.64), 13 Fabienne Meyer, Hanne Schenk (Swi) 1:48.31 (54.04 & 54.27), 14 Laura Curione, Jessica Gillarduzzi (Ita) 1:48.52 (54.15 & 54.37), 15 Elfje Willemsen, Eva Willemarck (Bel) 1:48.67 (54.27 & 54.40), 16 Alina Vera Savin, Carmen Radenovic (Rou) 1:48.87 (54.41 & 54.46), 17 Caroline Spahni, Sabina Hafner (Swi) 1:48.88 (54.18 & 54.70), 18 Manami Hino, Konomi Asazu (Jpn) 1:49.42 (54.64 & 54.78), 19 Astrid Loch-Wilkinson, Cecilia McIntosh (Aus) 1:49.51 (54.85 & 54.66), 20 Aoife Hoey, Claire Bergin (Irl) 1:49.53 (55.04 & 54.49), 21 Elena Doronina, Olga Fedorova (Rus) 1:49.61 (54.40 & 55.21)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Winter Olympics: Shannon 25th

Ireland's Pat Shannon finished 25th in the men's skeleton.

Final standings: 1 J Montgomery (Can) 3 mins 29.73 secs (52.60, 52.57, 52.20 & 52.36 secs), 2 M Dukurs (Lat) 3:29.80 (52.32, 52.59, 52.28 & 52.61), 3 A Tretiakov (Rus) 3:30.75 (52.70, 53.05, 52.30 & 52.70), 4 T Dukurs (Lat) 3:31.13 (52.94, 52.88, 52.62 & 52.69), 5 Z Lund (USA) 3:31.27 (53.04, 52.85, 52.57 & 52.81).
25 P Shannon (Irl) 2:44.98 (55.18, 55.20 & 54.60).

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Vancouver, February 12 - 28

Aoife Hoey (pilot) - Aged 26; from Portarlington. National triple jump champion in 2005. Works in the Athletics Ireland office.

Claire Bergin (brakeman) - Aged 25; from Dublin. Former champion junior sprinter; competed for Ireland on the 4x400 relay team at the European Indoors last year. Studied accountancy at DCU; on a training contract with Deloitte.

Leona Byrne (alternate brakeman) - Aged 22; from Carlow. Former multi-eventer. DCU sports science graduate.

Patrick Shannon - Aged 32; from Campile, New Ross, Co Wexford. Won several Irish triple jump titles.

Alpine skiing:
Kirsty McGarry - Aged 24; from Dublin. Finished 32nd in the Super G at Turin 2006. Physiotherapy student at the Royal College of Surgeons.

Shane O'Connor - Aged 36; from Malahide, Co Dublin. Has represented Ireland at five World Skiing Championships. Head coach at the Ski Club of Ireland in Kilternan.

Cross-country skiing:
PJ Barron - Aged 2O; from Aberdeenshire, Scotland. With a Dublin mother, he
declared for Ireland in 2008. University student.

Officials: Siobhán Hoey, chef de mission; Niall O'Connor, Alpine team manager; Ken Ellis and Colin Gaffney, Alpine skiing coaches; Rolf Haggstrom, cross-country skiing coach; Horst Hörnlein, bobsled ice coach; Barry Delany, bobsled technician;Marie Elaine Grant, physio.

Irish Times Award for Bobsledders

SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR MONTHLY AWARD – JANUARY, 2010: AFTER THE agony they endured this week waiting for the ruling of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Aoife Hoey and Claire Bergin might have regarded the prospect of taking on one of the fastest bobsleigh tracks in history as an entirely stress-free exercise.
For Hoey, the threat posed to her place in the Winter Olympics by the Australian challenge was especially upsetting having narrowly missed out on qualifying for the past two Games with her sister Siobhán, now the Irish chef de mission in Vancouver. After last night’s decision, that is now, thankfully, behind them.
With Bergin, though, Hoey made it third time lucky when the pair’s top-20 finish in San Moritz last month sealed their qualification for the Games, the first time Ireland had earned a place in the women’s Olympic bobsleigh event.
While Bergin (25), an accountancy student from Dublin who is on a training contract with Deloitte, only took up the sport in 2008, Hoey, a 26-year-old from Portarlington, followed her sister in to bobsleighing a decade ago.
Both are steeped in athletics: Hoey is a former national triple jump champion and Bergin a former champion junior sprinter who competed in the European Indoor Championships last year.
After Siobhán Hoey retired from the sport, Aoife persuaded Bergin and another athlete, Leona Byrne, to give it a try, and once they conquered their initial (and reasonable) fear they became an integral part of Hoey’s push for a place in the 2010 Games. Byrne is now the alternate to Bergin, the crew’s brakeman, with Hoey the pilot.
It was a difficult road, but the progress has been hugely impressive. Hoey and Bergin finished in the top-10 at the World Junior Championships last season, before Byrne teamed up with Hoey to just miss out on medals at European Cup races in Switzerland and Italy.
On the road to Vancouver, Hoey and Bergin, up against 16 crews from more traditional winter sport-powers, came seventh in the first round of the European Cup, securing another top-10 finish in the second round.
Since November, the pair, sensing they could be Canada- bound if they maintained that progress, devoted all their time to their sport, Hoey taking a break from her job as a development officer with Athletics Ireland.
Intensive work in the gym was combined with training on the running track in Santry with a “dry sled”, “the original bobsleigh the men’s team used for the Nagano Olympics (1998),” said Hoey. “It doesn’t look pretty, but it does the job.”
Inch by inch they moved towards clinching qualification; their results in a World Cup event in Germany in early January were followed by that 20th place in St Moritz which sealed it.
“It’s fantastic that we made it this time – just reward for all Siobhán’s hard work and dedication,” said Hoey in tribute to her sister, the pioneer of Irish women’s bobsleighing. “We are elated,” said Siobhán, who devised the training programme for the crew. “It’s a dream come true for everyone and the achievement is a testament to all the women down through the years who were instrumental in starting the programme.”
With the right support – and equipment – Aoife Hoey believes 2010 can be the kickstart for greater things, both for her and her team-mates and others coming in to the sport in Ireland.
“We could be looking at a top-10 place at the next Olympics. My driving is as good as anyone’s and the British have done it, so why not?”
Hoey and Bergin, then, might have made history, but they are fully focused on the future.

Women Sledders Look Safe

From the Irish Times

THE OLYMPIC Council of Ireland (OCI) is confident the latest challenge to the Irish women’s bobsleigh team’s participation in the Winter Olympics, starting in Vancouver tomorrow night, has come too late.
In a complicated legal challenge, the Brazilian team yesterday appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) to give them a place in the event, citing conflicts in the way the Irish team had qualified.

This followed an Australian challenge, finally resolved on Tuesday night, when Cas ruled that both Ireland and Australia could compete – the only compromise acceptable to both national Olympic Committees. The Australians became the 21st team to qualify. On hearing this, Brazil submited their appeal, even though they had failed when they made the same case to the International Bobsleigh and Tobogganing Federation (FIBT).

Cas will hear this case today, with the Brazilians arguing that they adhered to the qualifying criteria, while Irish team only completed part of their qualification late on in World Cup events.However, following the Cas ruling on Tuesday, it would be highly unlikely the Irish team will be ejected.

If Cas gives the Brazilians a place ahead of the Irish, they’ll be overriding their own ruling. Clearly the issue throughout has been the wording of the qualification rules.

Aoife Hoey, the bobsleigh pilot, will carry the Irish flag in tomorrow night’s opening ceremony.