Team GB strike gold at Winter Universiade

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Now that the powder has settled and the ice has finally thawed, Team GB can look back with pride on a hugely successful team performance at the 25th Winter Universiade, held in Erzurum, Turkey.

The 2011 World Winter University Games (from the 27th January-6th February) saw Team GB participate alongside the world’s best student athletes in eleven days of elite competition.
All of the British teams matched their global counterparts and Team GB returned home with a gold medal, a host of personal bests and a sense of satisfaction at a job well done.

The Women’s Ice Hockey team, in their second appearance at a Winter Universiade, immediately made history by smashing the host nation Turkey 10-0, a result that was their first ever victory at a Universiade.
While they did not fare quite so well against the other nations, they managed some very respectable results against Finland and the USA before crushing Turkey again in the 5th/6th place playoff, repeating their emphatic 10-0 score-line to ensure they went home on a real high.

The Alpine skiers had a hugely testing week in conditions that were not best suited to skiing, but Francesca Simonds and Abby Clifford both managed top 30 finishes in the Women’s Super Combined, while Alastair Stang was the pick of the men with his 37th place in the Men’s Slalom event.

At the freestyle events, Martin Trotter and Max Hardy both placed in the top 30 in Ski Cross, while all four British snowboarders qualified for the last 32 in the Boarder Cross finals, with Rowan Brandreth’s 16th place representing the top British finish, as well as his best ever finish.

At the Short Track arena, Gemma Cooper and Hew Williams achieved PBs in the 1000m and the 1500m respectively, while Olympian Paul Worth enjoyed one of the highlights of his career: carrying the flag for Great Britain at the Opening Ceremony.

Team GB’s figure skating duo of Louis Walden and Owen Edwards gave two fantastic performances, but a combination of misfortune in their second dance and local favour meant that they finished 5th.

At the Curling Arena, the Men’s team were cruelly edged out of a medal, narrowly defeated by the Czech Republic in their Bronze Medal Game.
However, the Women’s team were delighted to make their own piece of history, sealing the first ever British Curling Gold Medal, defeating Russia 7-6 in a fiercely close encounter that needed an eleventh end to decide the result.

The Games were a real success for Team GB, both in terms of results and personal experience, and the results in Turkey will undoubtedly provide a solid platform on which British winter sports can build before Slovenia 2013.

It was a real collective effort, and both the individual and team performances will hopefully live long in the memories of all the coaches and athletes.

Andrew Magee

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