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British skeleton quartet aim to maintain medal streak at the 2022 Winter Olympics

British skeleton quartet aim to maintain medal streak at the 2022 Winter Olympics
Posted at 2:28 AM, Feb 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 03:59:23-05

By Martyn Herman

Jan 29 (Reuters) - For a country that does not even boast a skeleton track, Britain's record at producing Olympic medal winners in the high-speed sliding sport is phenomenal.

Since skeleton returned to the program at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, British sliders have won three gold medals, three bronze, and one silver.

British women have been especially dominant, having won the last three Olympic titles with Lizzy Yarnold topping the podium in 2018 and 2014, and Amy Williams in 2010.

Yarnold has since retired and Laura Deas, who took bronze four years ago in PyeongChang, hopes to continue the country's medal streak at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

"There's no other track like it, it's really technical and difficult and I think the key will be consistency over the four runs. If you have three great runs but one bad one it will take you out of contention."

SEE MORE: Skeleton 101: Olympic History

The 33-year-old Deas will be joined by Olympic debutantes Brogan Crowley, Matt Weston and Marcus Wyatt - all of whom train at Bath University's concrete push track, a facility that enables sliders to perfect the all-important start.

Wyatt is a former football player, while Crowley was a promising heptathlete before being identified as having the attributes to slide down an icy track at speeds of 80mph.

Having the right people, the best in sports psychology, and a marginal gains approach to equipment and training methods are all key to making Britain a skeleton powerhouse, says former horse rider Deas, who did not take up the sport until she was in her 20s.

"The biggest thing we do really well is bringing in the right athletes, finding the people to transfer from another sport into skeleton," Deas, the most experienced member of the squad, told reporters when the team was announced.

"We don't have a home track so we have to do lots of other things better than other nations."

SEE MORE: PyeongChang 2018: How to be a skeleton athlete

In PyeongChang, a fight erupted on the eve of the Games about the British team's state-of-the-art skinsuits and helmets - with other nations claiming they gave them an unfair advantage.

Rivals may have wised up this time.

"I've got a huge amount of confidence and excitement about what we are bringing out for the Games and what that will help us to achieve on the track," Deas said.

SEE MORE: Skeleton 101: Equipment

While Dominic Parsons took a bronze medal four years ago, Britain's men have not managed to emulate the success of the women. Wyatt, 30, says any medal the 2022 Games would be a success and believes that the team may have an advantage.

"Other nations have multiple home tracks and their athletes spend a lot of time on them," Wyatt, who won a test event in October, said.

"There's no other track like it, it's really technical and difficult and I think the key will be consistency over the four runs. If you have three great runs but one bad one it will take you out of contention."

While the Olympics will be a new experience for Crowley, she said having role models like Williams and Yarnold fills her with confidence.

"As a woman, you don't always have incredible female idols within sport, but to have them skeleton has been amazing for me," she said.