Under the new metric system, introduced in Ireland just last year, the top speed on Irish roads is now 120 kilometers per hour — or 75 miles per hour.
And that’s exactly the velocity that David Connolly was traveling at as he rounded the Cesana Pariol ice track to record Ireland’s best placing yet in the Winter Olympics in Turin.
The Wicklow man finished 20th in the Skeleton final, recording runs of 59.97 seconds and one minute flat, to achieve an aggregate total of 1:59.97. The former sprinter hit a top speed of 74.9 mph on his second run, 0.5 mph miles faster than on his first.
The skeleton — so called because it is, effectively, a stripped down bobsleigh — involves the slider racing face-first down a mile-long ice tunnel, suffering six times the force of gravity over 19 sickening turns.
The 25-year-old — whose parents, Michael and Kathleen, were among the Irish fans trackside — declared himself “very satisfied” with the result, and immediately confirmed his intention to race on until the 2010 Olympics.
“My aim was a top 20 finish. I’ve done that. I’m very pleased.”
He added: “It’s all part of the learning experience and it’s pretty unheard of turning up at your first Games and winning. Most guys here have been sliding two years more than me so give me a couple more years and I’ll be a lot closer to them. We are trying to build on this and take it further.”
Connolly, who only took up the sport four years ago, is coached by Lord Clifton Wrottesley, his Irish peer who came out of nowhere to challenge for the medals four years ago at the Salt Lake Olympics. The Galway nobleman, who eventually finished in fourth place, is now the chef de mission for the Irish team. He’s hoping his prot