Skeleton is Britain’s national winter sport and a quartet of Bath sliders are hoping to keep the flag flying on the Olympic podium in Beijing.
Team GB have won medals at all seven Games at which skeleton has featured, including all five since it was reintroduced to the programme in 2002.
This time Laura Deas leads a four-strong contingent to contend for medals at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre, returning to the biggest stage having won bronze in PyeongChang.
Britain have turned heads in recent Games with their technological innovations, from Amy Williams controversial ‘foiled helmet’ in 2010 to aerodynamic suits with drag resistance.
And further work with the English Institute of Sport’s performance innovation team means they’re poised to unveil further gadgets and gizmos on race day in China.
“We don’t have that access to ice, so we have to look at innovating in different ways,” said Deas.
“We’ve been able to punch above our weight for so many Olympics now, it generates that interest and maybe that bit of jealousy.
“I think the real secret is all the hard work we’ve been putting in over the last four years.
“Obviously there’s innovations going on all the time and it’s about finding that edge on race day, it’s all part of our Olympic cycle. I’m excited to bring out the big guns on race day.”
Deas is Team GB’s only skeleton slider with Olympic experience, joined on the women’s side by Brogan Crowley.
A former heptathlete specialising in sprint hurdles, the 27-year-old first started competing on the World Cup circuit in 2019 and has risen rapidly in the sport.
In less than 24 hours 🤯 #Skeleton kicks off at the #Beijing2022 Winter Olympic Games 🙌🏼
At 1:30 AM GMT tonight, our male skeleton athletes, @MattWeston02 and @MarcusWyattGB , take on heats 1 & 2 and compete on the worlds biggest stage.
Set your alarms ⏰, it’s time to perform 💪 pic.twitter.com/Q6Ptk2IsFJ
— GBBobsleighSkeleton (@The_BBSA) February 9, 2022
Crowley said: “It’s been really useful to have Laura around – we’ve been working together a lot in the last few years.
“She has given me a little bit of an insight into what the Olympics could be like and what to expect. It’s different with Covid, but every Games is the same, we’re here to perform.”
On the men’s side, Matt Weston and Marcus Wyatt are tasked with maintaining the momentum sparked by Dominic Parsons’s historic bronze in South Korea four years ago.
Parsons became the first British man to medal in the sport since 1948 and hopes are high that another landmark result can be achieved in China.
Weston knows what it takes to make history having won World Cup gold at Igls in November – tied with two other rivals – the first Brit to do so since 2008.
He shared gold that day with China’s Wenqiang Geng and Weston is wary of the threat of the host nation.
“We’ve only had 40 runs down the track, they’ve probably had 400, even more to be honest,” he said.
“They’re going to be consistent, they’ve got some good talent in some of their pushes. But you’ve got to be on the money every time.
“The pressure of the fact that they’ve had all those extra runs could get to them. They’re going to be a lot stronger than they normally are but they’re not untouchable, nobody is.”
Weston is joined by Marcus Wyatt, who expects to enjoy conditions in Yanqing having taken silver at the test event last October.
“It’s a really unique track so it’s difficult to compare to other tracks on the circuit,” said Wyatt.
“It doesn’t suit anyone, it’s a really level playing field with the fact we’ve only had that one training period in October. It’s going to be a really open race, it’s not suiting anyone’s style because it’s so different.”
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