Britain's bobsleigh medal hopes fade

Nicola Minichiello's hopes of claiming Olympic gold on the same Whistler track as Amy Williams suffered a blow when she trailed in 10th place after the first two runs of the women's bobsleigh.

With Williams watching from the sidelines, Minichiello struggled to get to grips with the track in blizzard conditions and stands almost a second behind Cathleen Martini's German bob in third place.

Their overnight position will come as a crushing disappointment to Minichiello and her brake-woman Gillian Cooke, who won the world title last year and headed to Vancouver insisting nothing less than gold would do.

Minichiello hid that disappointment well, insisting: "Until we cross the finish line after the fourth run we are still shooting for the gold medal. That's what we're going for and that's what we've always gone for."

Minichiello admitted a mistake on the first bend had cost her dear on both runs. She struggled to regain enough speed after the first bend and ultimately held on to 10th place only 0.19 seconds ahead of team-mate Paula Walker.

Minichiello added: "Overall I'm driving most of the track really well but I'm just making a mistake on corner one and it's killing our speed. But on tracks like this anything's possible and we'll bring it back tomorrow."

Walker and brake-woman Kelly Thomas stood 14th after the first run but enjoyed a hugely improved second run which moved them up to 11th and close to their aim of a place on the top 10.

Their performance was all the more encouraging following their scary crash in training which Walker insisted she had put out of her mind despite the continuing issues over the controversial Whistler track.

Walker said: "When I came up the straight it didn't feel like a particularly good run but when I saw the time it really sunk in that it was good. We came in looking at a top 10 finish and I think it's well within our reach.

"For me the crash was done and dusted pretty much straight away. We went straight up and had another run down the track. It just acted as a reminder that a bobsleigh track can bite you on the backside."

The Canadian bob piloted by Kaille Humphries stood in the gold medal position half-way through the programme with a 0.13 advantage over Erin Pac's USA2. Martini was a further 0.27 adrift.