At the midpoint of women’s skeleton, Australia’s Jaclyn “Jackie” Narracott leads Germany’s Hannah Neise and Tina Hermann by only 0.21 and 0.23 seconds, respectively. History will almost certainly be made during the final two heats, especially if either Neise or Hermann claim the top spot: Australia may earn its first skeleton medal, while Germany could score its first women’s skeleton gold.
If Neise or Hermann win, Germany will have swept both Olympic skeleton events for the first time. They’ll also be six for six in all sliding sports contested so far at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
It’s a stunning leap forward for the 27-year-old Narracottt, who placed 16th at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics and has won only one World Cup event – the final stop of the 2021-22 season, St. Mortiz.
“I had hoped to be in with the mix, but to be sitting on top is unreal,” Narracott said after the first two heats. “This is what dreams are made of.”
However, Narracott faces two major threats in Neise and Hermann. The 21-year-old Neise earned skeleton silver at the 2016 Lillehammer Youth Olympic Games, and gold at the 2021 Junior World Championships; she’s currently ranked ninth in the world by the International Bobsled Skeleton Federation. Hermann’s track record is even more imposing: She placed fifth at PyeongChang 2018, and won the women’s skeleton event at the IBSF World Championship four times, most recently in 2021.
Sitting in fifth place: Jacqueline Loelling, the PyeongChang 2018 silver medalist. Loelling finished just behind Hermann at the most recent world championship, and is only 0.38 from first.
Anyone in the top ten could slide to the lead: Each athlete is less than a second from medal contention.
That includes Team USA’s Katie Uhlaender, who is competing in her fifth Games. Uhlaender achieved her best Olympic result at Sochi 2014, where she placed fourth – just 0.04 seconds from bronze.
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Halfway through what she says is her last Games, Uhlaender currently stands eighth – only 0.53 off Narracott.
Meanwhile, Kelly Curtis – who at PyeongChang 2018 made history as the first Black skeleton athlete to compete for the United States at the Olympics – is in 18th place.
Skeleton concludes with women’s Heats 3 and 4 on Saturday, Feb. 12 at 7:20 a.m. ET. The full 2022 Winter Olympics skeleton schedule can be found HERE. Watch a delayed broadcast on USA Network at 11:00 a.m. ET and stream live on NBCOlympics.com and Peacock.