Bromley fails to match girlfriend's silver service

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The 33-year-old known as "Dr Ice" has been around in the skeleton event for 12 years - a lot longer than his girlfriend, who earned Britain's first medal of these Winter Olympics after less than four years in the sport. But Bromley, who entered the second of his two runs down the strip-lit, refrigerated track in bronze position, was denied his dues by what he described as "one little mistake" following a technical adjustment to his sled during the break.

With only the two fastest riders from the first run left to go, Bromley was looking good for bronze until that momentary loss of control near the end of the course dipped him down to third with the two fastest riders from the first run, the Canadians Duff Gibson and Jeff Pain, still to come. They duly depressed him, with Gibson, a 39-year-old fireman, taking gold in 1min 55.88sec, and Pain silver in 1:56.14.

Bromley finished fifth, in 1:57.10, and his frustration was mirrored by that of his colleague Adam Pengilly, who began the second run in fourth place but dropped to eighth after a mistake on the fourth bend, finishing in 1:57.46. Switzerland's Gregor Staehli took the bronze Bromley in 1:56.80.

Bromley was left pondering on the decision he had taken with his brother Richard, who coaches him, to make the runners on his sled more bowed, thus giving him less contact with the ice. The effect was to make the sled faster, but more difficult to steer. In the end, the science didn't work for the man who earned his PhD with a thesis on skeleton racing.

Even as Rudman celebrated, it proved a far more typical day for Britain at the Winter Olympics - namely one of frustration. Chemmy Alcott, hoping to build on her hugely respectable 11th place in the women's downhill, was denied the opportunity in the Combined Downhill after judges disqualified her because her skis were marginally too narrow - 0.02cm in fact. Alcott had just completed the first of two scheduled slalom runs, but she will now not bother with the other element. Hardly the ideal preparation for tomorrow's Super Giant slalom, which held out the promise of further achievements.

In the women's snowboard cross event, introduced to the Games this year, Zoe Gillings was knocked out of contention in the quarter-finals by the flailing board of a fellow competitor of Germany.

And in the curling, Rhona Martin's charge to defend the title she won four years ago was checked by a 9-3 defeat at the hands of Canada. Britain's women, who have now won three and lost two, are fifth in the round-robin standings, just outside the semi-final positions, with Sweden leading and Norway, Switzerland and Canada joint-second. David Murdoch's team are charging on, however. They beat Sweden 8-2 last night and with four matches remaining stand joint top of the rankings with Canada.

Bromley, whose nickname is entirely fitting given that he earned his PhD in materials engineering after writing a thesis entitled "Factors Affecting the Performance of Skeleton Bobsleigh", put a brave face on as he assessed the British performance on the night.

"I think we put in a good show and I'm really pleased with the way I rode," he said. "We thought, 'Let's go for it', and we had to give it absolutely everything. My driving was really good until curve 14 on the second run, and I know there are three-tenths of a second there if I make a mistake. That probably cost me a medal.

"But I go back to have a beer and a bath and I'm not going to think about skeleton for a couple of months." Pengilly, who was a picture of dejection as he rose from his sled, added: "After a good first run I had a chance, and I didn't take it. I lost it on corner four - the rest of the track I drove better than I had in the first run."