The British Skeleton squad of Lizzy Yarnold, Laura Deas, Rose McGrandle, Dominic Parsons, Ed Smith and David Swift have arrived in Winterberg, Germany, and are ramping up their preparations for this weekâ€™s World Championships. …Â
Britainâ€™s sliders will contest the climax of the 2014/15 International Bob & Skeleton season as one of the strongest in depth of all the nations.
Olympic & European Champion, Lizzy Yarnold, will be seeking the only major title she is yet to win in her illustrious career.
Yarnold has been open in saying the World Championships has been the big goal this season, but is well aware of the task that lies ahead this week, saying: â€œAt the beginning of the season I set my target of winning the World Championships and Iâ€™m really pleased that my form this season has been at a level that now makes that goal realistic.
â€œIt would be an honour to be the first British slider to hold the World, Olympic and European titles all together, but I know that every athlete will be bringing their A-Game to Winterberg too, so I need to make sure Iâ€™m at my bestâ€.
The 26-year old from Kent had an outstanding season in the FIBT World Cup competition, winning five gold medals and a silver in seven races, which secured her 1531 points – second only to overall winner Janine Flock, of Austria, in spite of missing one race completely in Canada before Christmas.
Laura Deas returns to the venue where she won British Skeletonâ€™s world cup selection races in November 2014 – the first step in what has been a fantastic debut season competing at the highest level, which saw the 25-year old from Wrexham win her maiden world cup medal in Calgary before Christmas, taking silver, before finishing on the podium again in the New Year as she won bronze in St. Moritz.
In addition to her medals, three top-ten finishes at Altenberg, Igls and Sochi took Deas to fifth in the overall World Cup rankings with 1314 points.
Deas and her teammate in the menâ€™s squad, Dominic Parsons, both gained some valuable extra ice time in Winterberg as they were selected to compete in the World Championships Team Event yesterday.
In the event Deas & Parsons both had one run and GBâ€™s 2-man and 2-woman bobsleigh crews also did one run each, then all four times were combined to decide the overall winner.
Both British Skeleton sliders showed promising signs as Parsonâ€™s time of 57.40 put him in fourth place in the menâ€™s skeleton and Deas also produced a solid time of 59.14, as she was fifth against the womenâ€™s skeleton sliders.
GB went onto finish eighth in the team competition overall, following the races from British Bobsleighâ€™s athletes; Victoria Olaoye, Lucy Onyeforo, Lamin Deen & Simoen Williamson.
Speaking before she travelled out to the World Championships, Deas said: â€œI feel that this has been a big breakthrough season for me, winning two World Cup medals. The GB women are the top nation in the world right now and I will be going to Winterberg with confidence but no complacency. I still have elements that I can improve on before thenâ€.
The womenâ€™s squad is completed by Rose McGrandle, who enjoyed an extremely consistent season so far which peaked with a bronze medal at the European Championships in Igls.
Regular finishes in the top-ten meant that the 28-year old from Milton Keynes attained 1256 points in the world cup, finishing seventh overall.
Ahead of the World Championships, McGrandle said: â€œThis year has been challenging and at times I feel I have not been at my best but to collect another track record and a European Championships bronze medal this season has given me a real boost and Iâ€™m feeling positive about my sliding abilities.
â€œI have had some good performances on the track in Winterberg and Iâ€™ll be putting every effort into producing my bestâ€.
Sochi Olympian Dom Parsons arrives at the World Championships, following a consistent season which saw him finish outside the top-ten in just two out of eight races, with his best results coming in Konigsse and St. Moritz where he secured back-to-back fourth place finishes.
Parsons mirrored the result of Laura Deas as he finished in fifth place overall in the world cup rankings this season, with a tally of 1232 points.
The 27-year old from Dulwich, London, said: â€œTo finish fifth overall in the World Cup standings this season gives me a pretty good set up for my progression through to the 2018 Games. The World Championships are the main goal this season and iâ€™m hoping to produce my performance of the season thereâ€.
Ed Smith is the second member of the menâ€™s squad, and will be targeting a strong finish to a season that has been hampered by leg injuries which forced him to sit out of two world cup races, in La Plagne and Igls.
The 29-year old made a promising return at the final race of the tour in Sochi where he finished 16th after two solid runs and will be hoping to bring his best form to what will be his third World Championships.
Smith said: â€œIt has been a really tough World Cup season, trying to compete with the best sliders in the world whilst carrying persistent injuries. Iâ€™m proud of the grit and determination Iâ€™ve shown battling through this winter and Iâ€™m pleased that has been rewarded with selection for the World Championship squad. Hopefully we can finish the season on a highâ€.
David Swift, of Newton Abbot, Devon, is the third and final slider in the menâ€™s squad after a successful season racing in the Intercontinental Cup which culminated in him being crowned overall champion at the final race in Lake Placid.
Swift was then called up to cover for the injured Smith in Igls and he did not disappoint as he produced his highest world cup finish, taking seventh place.
Before travelling to Winterberg, the 30-year old said: â€œI am really pleased to have been selected for the World Championships squad. This will be my first World Championships and I am excited to race against the top sliders in the world and put in the best performance I can.
â€œThe squad this year is very strong and I see no reason why we canâ€™t have some great results to end an impressive year and provide some momentum moving towards the 2018 Gamesâ€.
The menâ€™s squad kick things off for British Skeleton on Thursday and Friday, and the women will race on Friday and Saturday. Full race timings can be found below.
Coverage of all the racing is available live on the BBC via the Red Button and on the BBC Sport website, with highlights available on iPlayer after the event.
BRITISH SKELETON SQUAD – BMW FIBT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2015, WINTERBERG, GERMANY
David Swift (Age: 30, Place of birth: Eastbourne)
Dominic Parsons (Age: 27, Place of birth: London)
Ed Smith (Age: 29, Place of birth: Bristol)
Laura Deas (Age: 25, Place of birth: Wrexham, North Wales)
Lizzy Yarnold (Age: 26, Place of birth: Maidstone)
Rose McGrandle (Age: 28, Place of birth: Milton Keynes)
BMW FIBT SKELETON WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2015 – RACE TIMINGSÂ
05/03/2015Â – 09:00 GMT – Heat 1
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â – 10:40 GMT – Heat 2
06/03/2015Â – 13:30 GMT – Heat 3
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â – 15:05 GMT – Heat 4
06/03/2015 – 10:00 GMT – Heat 1
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â – 11:45 GMT – Heat 2
Â 07/03/2015 – 09:00 GMT – Heat 3
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â – 10:35 GMT – Heat 4