British Skeleton athletes heading to World Championships in high spirits after impressive season of medals and development
Six University of Bath-based British Skeleton athletes will be aiming to cap an impressive 2020-21 season when they compete in the showpiece competition of the year – the IBSF World Championships which start in Altenberg, Germany on Thursday.
The GB men’s trio of Craig Thompson, Matt Weston and Marcus Wyatt have all stood on the podium during the recently concluded World Cup campaign, while Olympic bronze-medallist Laura Deas leads the challenge for the British women – exactly three years after she made history with Lizzy Yarnold at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Completing the line-up are 2016 Youth Olympic Champion Ashleigh Pittaway and Brogan Crowley who, like Thompson, Weston and Wyatt, have set personal best finishes on the World Cup circuit this season.
This year’s top-flight skeleton circuit has taken place entirely in Europe due to Covid travel restrictions and with some athletes unable to take part, qualification points for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games were suspended.
That has meant the British Skeleton athletes have had a rare opportunity to experiment in race conditions this season and Deas is hoping to see the benefits of that at the World Championships.
“You don’t usually have chance to draw breath during the World Cup season, you are racing week in week out, but this year we’ve been able to focus more on development,” said Deas, who won the first World Cup gold medal of her career in Altenberg in 2015.
“I have been able to work on a few things I’ve wanted to do for ages and I feel like I am sliding really well. My target always is to win a medal, I have been on the circuit long enough for that to be the bottom line, but it will be a good challenge with four German girls racing on their home track. The World Cup standard has been really high as well this year, even with some of the athletes not being able to compete, and you have to show world-class form just to break into the top ten.”
Deas has happy memories of Altenberg, as does Pittaway who grew up in Germany and is looking forward to competing at her second Senior World Championships having won bronze at the Junior Worlds last month.
“I had quite a few training camps at Altenberg when I was starting out but I haven’t been there much in recent years,” she said.
“The season has gone well for me and I feel really lucky to have gained so much World Cup experience. I definitely think if everything goes well I am capable of finishing in the top ten at the World Championships.”
The skeleton events at this year’s World Championships take place over three days, with the first two heats of both the men’s and women’s races scheduled for Thursday and Runs 3 and 4 set for Friday. Saturday then sees the team event, where a male and female slider compete in one run each, take place at 8am GMT.
Find out more about skeleton at the University of Bath by visiting teambath.com/skeleton. Visit www.thebbsa.co.uk for more details about the British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association.