16 Feb 2014

Russian rockets to gold, NZer last

11:45 am on 16 February 2014

Alexander Tretiakov won Russia's first Olympic gold in skeleton when he comfortably held off main rival Martins Dukurs of Latvia at the Winter Games in Sochi.

The 28-year-old world champion, dubbed the "Russian Rocket," thrilled an expectant and noisy crowd at the Sanki Sliding Centre to win by 0.81 seconds.

Dukurs, pipped to gold by seven hundredths of a second by Canadian Jon Montgomery in Vancouver, reduced the Russian's lead by a fraction on the third slide but Tretiakov kept calm and increased his advantage on the final run.

American Matthew Antoine took bronze, denying a second Dukurs brother a podium places.

Tomass Dukurs finished fourth, just as he did four years ago.

New Zealand's Ben Sandford finished 20th, dead last in the 20-man final.