Aussie sledder Walker misses out on podium

Ian Chadband |

Australian Breeana Walker in action during the season’s last monobob World Series race in St Moritz.
Australian Breeana Walker in action during the season’s last monobob World Series race in St Moritz.

Australian Winter Olympics hope Bree Walker has suffered the frustration of just missing out on a podium place at the finish of the Monobob World Series in St Moritz.

After five straight competitions when she finished in the top three, the consistent 29-year-old from Melbourne had a disappointing morning in the Series’ final event in Switzerland, managing to finish only seventh over the two runs.

Her worst result of the season in the individual bobsleigh event saw her slip from second place overall to fifth in the final standings.

It was the most disappointing end to a season that’s been largely dominated by America’s Elana Meyers Taylor, who was crowned overall champion on Saturday and will be favourite for gold when the monobob makes its Olympic debut in Beijing.

Walker, whose hopes disappeared after finishing only eighth on the first run, was sixth second time around and ended up 1.58 seconds behind US event winner Kaillie Humphries, who pipped Meyers Taylor for the St Moritz victory.

Over the whole season, though, Meyers Taylor took the title with 1,110 points, 58 points clear of Humphries and 98 points clear of Canada’s bronze medallist, Cynthia Appiah.

Walker was a mere six points behind Appiah and four adrift of another Canadian Christine de Bruin, who, crucially, both finished ahead of the Australian on Saturday.

The individual sliders will now focus their attention on the inaugural Olympics monobob, with very different conditions compared to the European races expected in China.

“I know I have a much bigger battle ahead. Beijing is unlike any track on tour, and it’s going to be a tough challenge,” said Meyers Taylor.

“I wasn’t focused on the overall title at all. I was just trying to work every week on getting better and better.”

Queensland-based Walker, a former one-lap hurdler on the track who turned to winter sports after injuries wrecked her chances of progression on the athletics track, is expected to be a strong contender for a rare Australian medal at the Winter Games.

She won gold in Winterberg, Germany, in December, and took three silvers and a bronze in other World Series races, only twice finishing off the podium.