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Winter Olympics 'very successful' for Israel, says Ashkenazi

Reflecting on what he terms "a very successful" Winter Olympics, Yaniv Ashkenazi, head of the Israel delegation, was more than satisfied with the best-ever performances by the country's ice skaters.

    London-born skier Itamar Biran carried the Israel flag into the Closing Ceremony in Pyeongchang. (Photo via Instagram)
    London-born skier Itamar Biran carried the Israel flag into the Closing Ceremony in Pyeongchang. (Photo via Instagram)

    "We didn't expect any medals but some of the ice skaters put in very strong displays and achieved personal records.

    “The results were well above our expectations. Watching Alexei Bychenko and Daniel Samohin skate so impressively in the final was the highlight of the Olympics for me."

    In Korea, Bychenko and Samohin became the first-ever Israelis to reach the figure skating finals at the competition. Bychenko finished ninth and Samohin 11th, both beating the previous best Israeli performance of Michael Schmerkin who finished 16th in the 1994 Winter Olympics. Israel also finished eighth in the team event.

    Ashkenazi commented: "It was a disappointing competition for speed skater Vladislav Bykanov who failed to reach a final and the rest of the record team of 10 all performed according to expectations.”

    During the closing ceremony at Pyeongchang, the flag was carried by London-born alpine skier Itamar Biran. The 19-year-old was the last Israeli to compete in Korea, finishing a creditable 49th in a field of 110 skiers.

    "We had a great team of Israelis and Jews from around the world and we hope to take an even bigger team to Beijing in 2022," said Ashkenazi.

    GB luge star Adam Rosen, 33, believes more investment is needed if Great Britain are to succeed at the Winter Olympics. Having finished in 22nd place in PyeongChang, Rosen said: “Having the right quipment really matters and if we don’t have access to it, we’re starting behind everyone else. It is frustrating.

    “I feel like with the right equipment I could have been up there.”

    Arielle Gold of America was the only Jewish medal winner at the Games, winning bronze in the snowboard halfpipe event.

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