Olympic champion Lizzy Yarnold is taking a season-long break from competition but will return to skeleton in the hope of becoming the first slider and the first British Winter Olympian to defend her title in PyeongChang in 2018.
Yarnold, who trains with the British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association at the University of Bath, made history this year when she won the World and European Championships to complete a career Grand Slam of skeleton titles, having won the Olympics and World Cup in 2014.
However, she admits that left her “emotionally fatigued” so she is taking a season away from the skeleton circuit to recharge before returning to the sport.
“I’m really pleased my coaching team and I have decided that I should remain in the UK this season,” said Yarnold.
“Coming off the back of my Olympic win in Sochi it was hard to re-motivate myself but I had the Grand Slam in my sights and wanted so desperately to be World Champion that it saw me through.
“It wasn’t until I returned home that I realized I was emotionally fatigued – more than the usual end-of-season exhaustion – so I asked my team if we could approach this year differently.
“I have a training programme set for me over the winter so I will still be working hard even though I won’t be on the circuit. I won’t be putting my feet up and relaxing, unfortunately!
“I’d like to thank my coaches, the BBSA, UK Sport and the National Lottery for their ongoing support – it is great to know they have faith in my ability and in my motivation as an athlete to know what I need to do to get my body and mind fit for the next Olympic cycle.”
The BBSA and British Skeleton Performance Programme are fully behind Yarnold’s decision, with Performance Director Andi Schimd in no doubt that the move will bring rewards when she returns to competition.
“We fully support Lizzy’s desire to take a season off from competing,” said Schmid. “UK Sport are aware of the decision and we are very grateful for their continued support.
“We have an impressive degree of strength in depth within the squad and are confident that we will still be competing for podium places this season. Laura Deas was in outstanding form last season and we believe she will push on again this time around after picking up a brace of medals on the World Cup circuit in Calgary and St Moritz.
“Donna Creighton has shown she will also be a force this year after winning the ICC title and we are very excited to see Jor’dan McIntosh back in action after her injury.”
The BBSA is based at the University of Bath, with athletes utilising the High-Performance Gym in the Sports Training Village and a newly-upgraded outdoor push-track – the only one of its kind in the country.