Stanbridge turns dream into reality

Stanbridge turns dream into reality

John Stanbridge’s remarkable journey to tomorrow’s World Championship start line means he’s more determined than most to enjoy the moment.

Stanbridge has gone from breaking his neck to preparing to compete at the showpiece event of the season in just 15 months.

The 33-year-old RAF serviceman suffered a serious injury while sliding in Altenberg in late 2022, with many predicting that his bobsleigh career would be over. But instead of accepting that he may have to walk away from the sport with his ambitions unfulfilled, Stanbridge set his sights on returning better than ever.

And that’s exactly what he has done in the year and a quarter that have followed. Having had an average Europa Cup finish position of 20th across the first three seasons of his international career, Stanbridge made the EC wider podium four times and had another five top ten finishes this term. He also stepped up to the sport’s top circuit for the first time, competing at World Cup events in St Moritz and Lillehammer, finishing just outside the top half in a field of 22 in the latter. 

Those performances have earned him a World Championship spot for the first time and he now has his sights set on making the most of the opportunity that his hard work, self belief and incredible perseverance have created.

“It’s a dream, but it’s taken a lot of hard work to get here,” said Stanbridge, who slides in the 2-man competition with fellow debutant Jens Hullah this weekend.

When I first started sliding, this was one of my goals. When I broke my neck, it looked like it would be pretty hard to make that dream a reality.

“It’s been a really tough challenge just to get back sliding so to be here now is pretty special. The hardest thing about it was the mental aspect: people told me I was mad to carry on. But I didn’t want it to end like that. I knew if I could get back, I could be better than I was before. I felt like I was making progress as a driver and that I was capable of a lot more than what I’d achieved at that point. 

“I think we’ve shown as a team that was the right call to make. It’s a great feeling to look back at the development that we’ve gone through and the progress we’ve made this season. We’ve shown what we’re capable of and proven that we can compete at the highest level. To be able to compete the way we have this year, no one thought that was possible.” 

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John Stanbridge made his World Cup debut in St Moritz

Having proved the doubters wrong and shown that he and his crew do have what it takes to be on the same stage as the sport’s big boys, Stanbridge is now aiming to make it through to all four runs at the biggest event of his career.

Only 20 of the 28 sleds will feature in Run 4 as the field gets cut after three quarters of the race is complete and being involved from start to finish is Stanbridge’s focus this Saturday and Sunday.

“The target this week is to get all four runs and then see where we end up. We want to keep building and see what we can achieve here to take us into next season, but to be able to compete the way we have this year took a lot of people by surprise so we’re going to make sure we enjoy the moment, too,” added Stanbridge.

The atmosphere and the excitement that’s been building here is wonderful. It’s definitely living up to expectations so far. We’re all really excited and proud to be here.

“After an amazing season, and making my World Cup debut, to be now be here at the biggest event on the calendar is incredible. I can’t wait to see how we stack up against the rest of the world.”

This year’s World Championships take place in Winterberg, Germany from February 22nd - March 3rd, with the schedule as follows:

Thurs 22 Feb
Women's Skeleton Heats 1&2 9am
Men's Skeleton Heats 1&2 1pm

Fri 23 Feb
Women's Skeleton Heats 3&4 11am
Men's Skeleton Heats 3&4 3pm

Sat 24 Feb
Women's Monobob Heats 1&2 8am
2-man Bobsleigh Heats 1&2 12pm
Skeleton Mixed Team Competition 4pm

Sun 25 Feb
Women's Monobob Heats 3&4 8.15am
2-man Bobsleigh Heats 3&4 12.15pm

Fri 1 Mar
Women's Bobsleigh Heats 1&2 2pm

Sat 2 Mar
4-man Bobsleigh Heats 1&2 9am
Women's Bobsleigh Heats 3&4 1.30pm

Sun 3 Mar
4-man Bobsleigh Heats 3&4 1pm

All races will be shown live on the IBSF YouTube channel and website