Successful return to ice for GB Skeleton
Preparations for the new sliding season stepped up another notch this week as the GB Skeleton squad took to the ice in Lillehammer.
A series of training runs and two days of national selection racing provided a solid base in the build up to the competitive campaign that lies ahead in Europe, North America and Asia as the team look to impress across all four international circuits in 2016/17.
A push-start training camp in Turin gave the athletes their first taste of the ice since March last month but the trip to Norway marked their full return to the cold stuff and Performance Director, Andi Schmid, and Head of Performance, Danny Holdcroft, were impressed with what they saw in Scandinavia.
“To have around 35 athletes and members of staff in camp this week and to see the system running like clockwork is very, very pleasing,” said Schmid, who saw Dom Parsons win the men’s selection race and Olympic Champion Lizzy Yarnold take the honours in the women’s event on her comeback to the ice following a season away from the circuit last time out.
“The level of team work and camaraderie was something that was impossible to ignore and it’s exactly what I was hoping for before we came out here.
Training went very well all round and the athletes took that form into the selection race on Thursday and Friday. They all worked incredibly hard over the summer so to see that transfer into success on the ice so early on is a real plus.
“A number of our senior sliders really stepped up to the plate and the next generation of sliders showed real potential, so things are looking good for the future. We know there is still plenty of work to do but we head into the new season confident that we are going in the right direction.”
The squad now move on to further equipment testing and finalising their preparations for the international campaign and Holdcroft insists there is a definite buzz around the team after getting back to doing what they do best.
“There’s a noticeable air of excitement throughout the squad, and that really rubs off on everyone involved,” said Holdcroft.
“It’s been a hugely successful camp and it’s clear that the efforts of the likes of Athletic Performance Coach Ed McDermott back in Bath are really coming to fruition now that the guys are back on the ice. You could also see the impact that our ice coaches were having on individuals and on the group as a whole so it left both Andi and I feeling pretty positive at the end of what has been a busy time for us all.
“As Andi said, our team structure has really moved forward over the past fortnight. There is a great dynamic between the athletes and the coaches and the way they are working together has been really pleasing to see.
“And the way the athletes performed in the selection races after just five days of sliding was equally impressive. The number of guys producing sub 54 second times and the number of girls going sub 55 was a real boost. They’ve produced some exceptional performances and that gives us a lot of optimism moving forward.”
Laura Deas finished second behind Yarnold in the women’s race, with Donna Creighton and Kim Murray in third and fourth positions respectively.
In the men’s race, Kenny Howard was second overall after four runs, with Jerry Rice in third.
The GB Skeleton squad for each of the four international circuits will be named on October 31st, with the opening World Cup race taking place in Canada on Friday, December 2.
For the full race schedule for the coming season, click here