We’re in­no­va­tors, not cheaters

The New Age (Free State) - - SPORT - PYEONGCHANG

BRI­TISH skele­ton racer Jerry Rice has dis­missed spec­u­la­tion that the team’s high-tech skin suits could be il­le­gal and said peo­ple were wel­come to point a fin­ger all they liked.

Bri­tish news­pa­per The Guardian re­ported this week that the “aero­dy­namic” suits used the same tech­nol­ogy that had helped Team GB’s cy­clists dom­i­nate at the sum­mer Olympics since 2008.

Team USA said they ex­pected the suits to be dis­cussed dur­ing the team cap­tains’ meet­ing yes­ter­day.

Rice, who will make his Olympic de­but in the men’s event start­ing to­day, said the team’s equip­ment had been “checked and signed off” by tour­na­ment or­gan­is­ers.

“It doesn’t bother me, peo­ple can spec­u­late as much as they’d like,” the 27-year-old Rice said after train­ing at the Olympic Slid­ing Cen­tre on yes­ter­day. “The fact of the mat­ter is that the Bri­tish guys are fast be­cause we’re good at slid­ing, no other rea­son. We’re in­no­va­tors, we do ev­ery­thing we can to be as fast as we can be. They can point all they like but for us we just want to con­cen­trate on our­selves.”

Rice is part of a strong Bri­tish team of four, in­clud­ing women’s Olympic cham­pion Lizzy Yarnold and men’s racer DomPar­sons, who made the top 10 at Sochi.

The Bri­tish sled­ders’ re­sults in train­ing have been im­pres­sive, with Par­sons, Yarnold and women’s team­mate Laura Deas all top­ping the time sheets in dif­fer­ent heats.

A tweet on Uh­laen­der’s Twit­ter feed queried the le­gal­ity of the suits ear­lier yes­ter­day.

“I was no­ti­fied there was a lit­tle bit of an ar­ti­cle posted and a lot of coaches and ath­letes had ques­tions on whether the suit was le­gal,” four-time Olympian Uh­laen­der, who fin­ished fourth at Sochi, told re­porters. I think the rules state that every­one is sup­posed to have ac­cess to the same equip­ment as far as hel­mets and speed suits go and not have any aero­dy­namic at­tach­ments. It’s part of the game, I think if you see some­thing that is ques­tion­ably le­gal, it’s OK to ask.”

Team USA ques­tioned the tim­ing of the Guardian ar­ti­cle, ap­par­ently sug­gest­ing mind games were at play.

“The tim­ing of the ar­ti­cle was perfect and a smart strate­gic move by the Bri­tish team,” USA Bob­sled and Skele­ton chief ex­ec­u­tive Dar­rin Steele said.

“The rules are clear that there can’t be any aero­dy­namic el­e­ments at­tached to the suit and we don’t ex­pect to see any on the Bri­tish speed­suits in the race.

“Ath­letes from var­i­ous na­tions are talk­ing about the Bri­tish suits in­stead of fo­cus­ing on the up­com­ing races. A large part of this sport is men­tal strength. It’s about who can throw down de­spite dis­trac­tions and we’ll see who comes out on top over these next few days.”

The In­ter­na­tional Bob­sleigh and Skele­ton Fed­er­a­tion was not able to pro­vide im­me­di­ate com­ment. – Reuters

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