Lizzy Yarnold never wanted to be the Olympic champion at hurtling headfirst down mountains, her face millimetres from the ice. She longed to be a modern pentathlete (the one with showjumping and pistol shooting). But talent scouts disagreed and wrote her a letter telling her she was going into bob skeleton.
“I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll give it a go’,” Yarnold recalled. “It was petrifying.” She got hooked, despite once blacking out at 90mph. Sometimes, she says, “you really feel that you are going to take off and fly. You can feel the air rush by you... I love the feeling that you’re almost out of control and going faster and faster all the time.”
Her 80mph descent to the Olympic podium yesterday captured the eccentricity of the Winter Olympics. Competition is dangerous and shorn of the hysteria attached to so much other professional sport. Freed from expectation, the armchair viewer can relax, sit back and enjoy the contest. So here’s to the next nine days of action – I don’t mind who wins – and then to this summer’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Yesterday brought the Audited Bureau of Circulations figures (“the ABCs”) for January. Welcome to new i readers and thanks to all of you for your support: retail sales were up 3 per cent on the previous month, apparently, and 3.2 per cent on January 2013. Daily circulation averaged 298,266. More of you are buying i on Saturdays than ever before – although we want to improve the Saturday paper and welcome your requests and ideas. As a readership, you now make up one-fifth of the quality newspaper market, nipping at the heels of The Times and vastly outnumbering The Guardian.