The win gave the host nation its first gold medal in this event and it’s second in the sport.
Zubkov became only the second pilot to win the 4-man event on home ice, after American William Mead Lidsley Fiske III who won at the Lake Placid 1932 Olympics.
In the women’s, Canadians Kaillie Humphries and Heather Morse defended their gold from Vancouver in dramatic fashion. They were second behind the top American team of Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams for the whole competition until the last run, finishing on top of the podium by 0.10 seconds.
Australian women’s Bobsleigh team, Astrid Radjenovic and Jana Pittman, placed 14th, equalling the best result by an Australian women’s team at the Olympics.
The 31-year-olds have been friends since they were hurdlers as teenagers and had only been sliding together for just over a year. It was the third Olympics for both of them, with Pittman making her winter Games debut, after representing Australia at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympics.
With three Olympic debutants in the men’s team- pilot Heath Spence, Gareth Nichols and Lucas Mata, plus Vancouver 2010 Olympian Duncan Harvey- the Australian team finished in 22nd position in the 4-man event. Spence and Harvey were 26th in the 2-man event.
Renting sleds from Latvia, both the men’s and women’s teams faced considerable hurdles to reach Sochi, but showed they could be competitive on the track.
Australia’s future in the sport looks strong. 28-year-old Mata is planning on turning his attention to piloting and is looking towards PyeongChang in 2018. Spence, Harvey, Nichols and Radjenovic have all not ruled out staying in the sport. Pittman has hinted at a return to athletics at the Summer Olympics and then a tilt at the Winter Olympics in 2018.
Annie Kearney | sochi2014.olympics.com.au