Israeli Olympian A.J. Edelman slides down the track during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February, 2018..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A.J. Edelman is ranked 28th out of 30 competitors at the men’s skeleton event at the Pyeongchang Olympics after making history on Thursday and becoming the first Israeli to take part in the event at the Winter Games.
In the skeleton, competitors ride a small sled down a frozen track while lying face down. On Thursday, Edelman reached speeds of 124 kilometers/hour, but that was still only good enough to finish ahead of counterparts from Jamaica and Ghana who were both well off the pace.
The 26-year-old religiously observant Boston native, who made aliya in 2016, set a time of 52.48 seconds in his first heat before clocking 52.43s in his second run.
The third and fourth heats will be held on Friday.
Edelman was hoping to compete with a helmet featuring a depiction of the biblical figure Samson. But he was forced to settle for a black helmet with an Israel flag on it after the International Olympic Committee insisted that having Samson on his helmet qualifies as the displaying of political and religious propaganda at the Olympics, which is strictly forbidden.
The undoubted star of Israel’s delegation to the Pyeongchang Olympics, figure skater Alexei Bychenko, is hoping to make up for the disappointment of four years ago when the men’s competition gets under way on Friday.
Bychenko is competing in his second straight Games and is confident of improving on his 21st-place finish in Sochi in 2014.
The 30-year-old is dreaming of a top-10 finish in South Korea after registering the best-ever result for an Israeli man at the figure skating world championships in Helsinki last year, ending the event in 10th place, which earned Israel a second berth in the men’s competition at the Olympics.
Daniel Samohin, the gold medal winner at the 2016 world junior figure skating championships, will be Israel’s second representative.
Bychneko will perform to the music of Hava Nagila, with Samohin selecting L’Immensita by Il Volo as his soundtrack.
Bychenko looks to be entering the competition in excellent form after finishing in second place in the men’s short program as part of the team event last Friday.
Bychneko won a silver medal at the European Championships last year and finished in fifth place at this year’s edition of the event last month.
The top 24 skaters from the short program will compete in the free skate on Saturday.
On Thursday, Germany’s Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot wowed the judges with a brilliant and haunting performance to claim both a pairs free skate world record and an Olympic gold medal as they rallied from fourth place to the top of the podium.
Israel’s Evgeni Krasnopolski and Paige Conners failed to advance to the pair skating free skate, finishing in 19th place out of 22 teams in Wednesday’s short program.Reuters contributed to this report.