Category Archives: Blog

Happy 2017 from Altenberg!

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resizedimage600440-lizzy1Hallo from snowy Altenberg, a suitably wintery start to 2017!

We’ve been here in Germany all week preparing for the third World Cup race of this season, and whilst it was brilliant to see my friends and family back home at Christmas, there is something great about kick starting the New Year with a race. Sure fire way to blow away the cobwebs!

My first race of the season in Whistler was my first competitive race for over a year and if I’m honest, I was petrified of messing it up! Once it was over, I relaxed and we moved on to Lake Placid for Race 2 where we had a whole week of training before the race week, which is unusual, but was so helpful as I was able to test out some different lines and really get to grips with the track. My Coach Eric is a veteran having done thousands of runs there, holding a track record and winning a World Cup race back in 2007. It was fantastic to learn from him that week and soak up all of his advice.

The extreme cold set in ahead of the race and training was really difficult, having to run outside, grab my sled, taking off my jacket and trousers as late as possible so I didn’t freeze was distracting. Hitting the walls at Lake Placid hurts a lot more in the cold too, it feels like a hot burn with your skin being scraped off!

Despite all this, on the morning of the race I felt totally calm and enjoyed the process of warming up and preparing, a good sign as my training times had placed me in the middle of the field, but I felt confident come race day I could bring it. I pushed well and had my best downtime of the trip, finishing with a silver medal and the added bonus of being World Cup Leader. A surprise for the Christmas break and a welcome return to the action!

So let’s hope I can continue to stay calm as we hit the European tracks. It was announced recently too that this season’s World Championships were being moved from Sochi to Konigsee, here in Germany. Konigsee is where I took part in my first World Cup race back in 2012 and I love the track. The track was originally designed for luge that can steer a lot more than skeleton sleds, so it makes it a really challenging track as you have to try and manage the chicanes without steering! The race will be an interesting one, it’s all about getting it right on the day much more than at any other track so the competition will be wide open.

Much like most of the races this season I’m sure, the field is really competitive and I’m excited about whether I can keep on improving as I get more races under my belt.

Lizzy x

To watch Lizzy race tune in at 10am GMT to the IBSF You Tube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/user/bobskeletv

What difference a year makes!

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This sums it up!

This sums it up! [credit: www.snapperlee.com]

I am desperately trying not to churn out the expected cliché’s: “Oh my god –it was a year ago when I won the Olympics!” – “Can’t believe it! Where has the time gone?” – “Arrghhh this year has flown by so fast – almost as fast as me when I was sliding to Olympic gold!” Hahaha hmmmmm. you get the picture.

But yes – it is indeed one whole year since I raced in Sochi to become the Olympic Champion, by the largest ever margin (is it arrogant to say that?!) It was a special time in my life and sitting here as I write this, looking up towards the track where it all happened is quite surreal. We are back in Sochi, getting ready to race in the last World Cup event of this season which takes place today, the 14th February, the same date when I won the gold medal last year. A good omen you would hope!

Nothing much has changed here, snow is slowly falling trying to cover the lower lying mountains and the music is still blaring out from bars of Rosa Khutor! The only things that are missing are the thousands of people who have come to watch and the bright Olympic branding that has given way to local shops opening up for the snowboaders and skiers who venture out this far. So no fanfare this time around, I just have to get on and race, do the same preparations as before and get the job done.But I am a different athlete this time around, a different person even. I feel older (definitely), wiser (a little) and a bit braver (which helps when you feel like the one everyone is aiming to beat).

The team around me has changed too – people have moved on and I’m lucky to have another great group of people who support me and help make me as fast as I can be on the track. The morning before the Olympic final last year I went and sat at the top of the hill overlooking the Athletes’ Village with some of my trusted team. I have such fond memories of that quiet time before the craziness of the final race. I made sure I told the media afterwards that we took a healthy picnic for our breakfast to set me up for the race ahead. We did in fact take a load of yummy cakes and treats and I like to think that moment of indulgence helped me give it my all later on that day!

I don’t think my Coach will let me indulge in the same way again this weekend unfortunately, it is my final race before the World Championships in March, the only title to allude me so far. I had secretly hoped to defend my Overall World Cup title this year, however missing the Calgary race has set me back too far to deliver against an opportunistic group of World Cup rookies!

So my focus remains on the World Champs in a few weeks and the race here in Sochi. I wasn’t sure how I would feel coming back, I thought the race would be pretty ordinary and post-Olympics it would have lost its specialness for me. However, it feels like coming home, or like an adult returning to their primary school with fond memories where they learnt so much. Sochi is that place for me, it helped me spread my wings and here’s hoping I can fly again today!

Enjoy the race – watch it on www.bbc.co.uk/sport at 2pm GMT.

Happy New Year!

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It’s 2015- how about that! Of course 2014 was more than likely the best year of my life, but it also came with its own challenges. I am looking forward to a clean slate with this new year as much as anyone – I’m also regretting my New Year’s resolutions as much as everyone!

I’ve just arrived in Altenberg, Germany for race 3 of the season. With a stop-start beginning to this year’s World Cup circuit it’ll be good to have a full 6 weeks full time training abroad with the team. Nothing beats the feeling of heading up to the track early in the morning and seeing the snow covered mountains surrounding me. A deep breath of super fresh air pushes the reset button every time, which I love. Everyday is a new day to try and get that elusive steer or beat the unbeatable track record.

This year, my New Year’s resolutions include giving up caffeine, both tea and coffee. I see this as both healthy and stupid. I decided to give it a go as I’ve been a hot drink addict for as long as I can remember- day 5 and it is almost impossible. I hope it gets easier!

My 2015 New Year’s Resolutions are:

  • Give up caffeine for a few months
  • Read 1 book each month
  • Do the second day of a 2-part photography course that I started in 2012
  • Be happy and appreciate every single day

Whatever your resolutions are I think that half the battle is just committing to them, and I hope that you can achieve all your hopes and dreams this year.

Speak soon and Happy New Year!

Here we go – new season as OC!

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Lizzy with Dom Parsons and new Coach Eric

Lizzy with Dom Parsons and new Coach Eric

What a long and diverse summer it’s been! For me personally it has been a bit of a rollercoaster, juggling training and preparing for the new season, with the all of the other new demands on my time since becoming Olympic Champion, I have never had to ‘manage’ other parts of my career off the track until now, and it has been fun and challenging trying to strike the right balance.

The season after an Olympic Games can be challenging for athletes, we all have to check in with our motivation – for me I have to know what is going to get me through the next 4-year cycle to Pyeongchang?

But the beginning of an Olympic quad provides a refreshing chance to review everything, we can shake the things that didn’t work and emphasize those bits that did. I’ve updated a few things, but will retain my own unique process of recording my track notes and how I work with staff and coaches. I have a new coach, Eric Bernotas who is now the World Cup coach and is a fantastic addition to the coaching staff. With Eric’s wealth of knowledge as a skeleton athlete for the USA as well as proficiency for coaching with Australia, I’m looking forward to his ambitious and stringent style.

I have always expected a lot from myself and this year is no different. I want to slide faster than I ever have before, be a better athlete and to try and win more gold medals. I am also the one to beat as the returning Olympic Champion my new nickname amongst my teammates is ‘OC’ – a new experience for me!

A less than perfect start to this year’s pre-season training however, did put me out of step. Its always nice to experience a ‘first’ – except when it’s the first time you fall off the sled!

Every run whether in training or competition, I stand at the start block with the same questions running through my mind- “Why I am doing this? Will I remember all of the steers? Will I crash?” I have never crashed the sled before so that one is usually ticked off…

Pre-season training in Konigssee, Germany a few weeks ago and I had steered through the three large oscillations in the Kreisel corner and made it through the chicane of two extremely steep sided corners. Before I know it, I am thrown off the sled sliding around a huge left-hander with the sled on top of me.

OC brought back down to earth with a bump!

I realised in that split second that complacency had paid a part – I had never crashed before so didn’t think I had to worry about it.image2

I got back onto the sled by the next corner and continued down the track to the outrun where I was met by two of my teammates to check that I was okay, which luckily I was. Having grown up on a farm riding horses I knew the importance of ‘getting straight back on the horse’. After my flip I was nervous about it all, but I had to show the track who was boss. I was eager to get back sliding the next day and rewrite my memory, the worst thing is to leave a track with bad emotions and memories because the next time you’ll be there it will be near on impossible to perform. What a lesson – I won’t let my concentration dip again that’s for sure.

After that rocky start, I am back to sliding well and I am in great physical shape.
I really can’t wait for the season to start this year especially as I didn’t know whether I would ever step inside the gym again after Sochi. I now know that the reason I am sliding again into this Olympic Cycle is the best reason of all, because I love it. And I want to win.

As always, thank you for your support.

The Race

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gallery02I’m back!

I left my blog in a place where I had absolutely no idea of what was going to happen over the next week. I’d begun Official Training and knew I was on a good path towards medalling at the Olympics, but as I’d already said; “Training is training, racing is racing, and I have a lot of practicing to do here. I do know one thing though – I will never give up.”

I began to get quite nervous on Wednesday 12th, the day before the race. By this point I’d done all I could, I’d tried all the different sled set-ups and had a definite lines in the corners for the biggest race of my life. I texted my best friend, “I’m feeling quite nervous about tomorrow, I have to tell you. I can’t tell anyone else.” I felt really silly for worrying and feeling so anxious. I wasn’t sure how to handle the situation now that every job had essentially been done and it was all on me to win the race- win the race I’d been wanting to win all of my life.

I packed about 6 speed suits into my track bag, my crash helmet, spare visors, scissors, tape, screwdrivers, food, water, spare clothes, chewing gum, tissues, hairbands,  2 skipping ropes, earphones, backup earphones, 2 phones, and an Ipod. What ever I could control – it was under control! I left for the track on the 13th February pretty early, so early that I’d brought my breakfast back to my room the night before to avoid the queues in the athlete food hall.  I got into the bus taking us all to the track and settled down to read my book. I remember listening to Elena Nikitena’s Russian pop music blaring out, it was certainly very different to the music I listen to! Everyone around me was doing the same things as me, focus, relax…we were all there to compete and all there to win.

From this point in the race was exactly the same as any other race. I begin my warm up an hour and a half before my first run, I study the ice temperatures, decide my sled set up for the day, and watch the spur sleds exit the start spur to check it’s sending the sled straight going into the first corner. After the first run and being in first place I, as normal, put my head down for a mini nap and ate some food. For the second run a went into the same skipping warm up, putting my bib and gloves all on correctly and went to the start block and did my thing.

I left the Sanki Centre with a tidy 0.44 second lead on Noelle, some would say quite a substantial lead. Noelle had missed some training with concussion and I know from the whole World Cup season that she can be a tough athlete to beat. As well as Noelle, there was Elena joined with both other Russian women as well as Katie Uhlaender from the USA all breathing down my neck. What does one do during the over night gap between the two most important days of your life? Watch Poirot.

February 14th allowed a little lie-in for the team. I headed up to the top of the mountain with Kay and Rachel to ‘get away’, secretly just wanting to take some gorgeous pics of the snow and sunny skies and have a real good chinwag! I came back and headed into the gym to keep myself busy, and then to bed for a few hours sleep. The athletes’ life is one of purposeful practice in every part extending to the food I consume, and the amount and timing of fluid I take on all carefully orchestrated.

Run 3 went as planned, I put down another storming time and maintained the track record for a second day. I knew the others were coming down after me so I needed to wait a little while until I knew the time difference of all the competitors.

The gap had increased to 0.78 seconds.

This is when I realised that it wasn’t just any old race, I realised how much I really wanted this and how hard I had trained for such a long time for this moment. I knew one thing-  I was never going to give up.

 

Gold

Lizzy x

Official Training day 1

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Lizzy-Launch1Usually I hate early mornings. It’s a key element to elite performance for an athlete getting enough rest and recovery, which is a hard thing to understand as we’re perceived at being fit, healthy, and good at everything! I sleep at least 8 hours every night and make sure I eat about 4 or 5 times everyday. I have honed my ability to slide head first down the skeleton track and be physically strong and good at sprinting, but there are also lots of things I’m not very good at.

Today I spent a bit of time watching the downhill racing, moguls, and curling, all events that are totally beyond my own sporting ability. I remember when I was in school I would join every after school club, every sports team, and try to learn to play the piano and sing. Living in a relatively remote area my primary school only had 20 or so students in each class, giving me a pretty good chance of being involved in all the school plays. I would audition for quite central roles, believing that I could give it as good a go as anyone else. I always got the ‘tree number 2’ role, credit to my branch and leaf swaying skills. It wasn’t until I was about 11 years old that I realized that my gift was being determined, being committed to be my best. I had a natural affinity to sports because I knew I could learn a trick or skill if I just kept practicing, and I did.

I was selected for the National Prep Schools competition for the high jump and shot putt which was hosted at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham. The primary school sports teachers and I did research on the shuffle shot putt technique and Frosby-flop for the high jump, and spent every lunch time down at the athletics track practicing. I recall a single moment of looking over to all my friends playing together and hearing them scream and shout in excitement, and here I was focused on jumping 1.50m instead of 1.45m, and I unquestionably knew that this is where I wanted to be. I wanted to see how good I could be at something, and I knew that if I didn’t give up and I trained harder than anyone else, then I might just get there.

It wasn’t hard to get up out of bed in the end, because it was the start of the Official Training for the Olympics. 2 runs each day over 3 days, racing on Thursday and Friday.

Training is training, racing is racing, and I know that I have a lot of practicing to do here before I compete. I do know one thing though – I will never give up.

Lizzy x

The XXII Winter Olympics have begun

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Sochi-blog1A story for Saturday 8th February 2014, Day 1

Saturday was a sliding day! I had forgotten how much I love to train until I spend a few days not doing it. We were on the track by 11am and finished in plenty of time to watch the slopestyle final in the changing rooms at the track. I have met Billy and Jamie a few times and was impressed that they were both able to do themselves justice in the competition, they didn’t let the Olympic environment get in the way of a great performance- ‘never let perfection come in the way of a good performance’. With Jamie’s 6th place finish and Billy’s 10th, it was a really good start for TeamGB especially as this was a new Olympic sport.

I’m finding my feet in the Olympic Village, taking my book up to read in the shopping plaza area and getting a few snacks from the shop. Walking around the Village and being surrounded by the best athletes in the world in their events is a massive privilege and it motivates me even more to try and do my very best on the skeleton track.

I’ve got a day off on Sunday and am hoping to go and watch Aimee Fuller and Jenny Jones compete in snowboard slopestyle, as well as resting up for our skeleton official training which starts on Monday!

Sochi-blog2

Photo thanks to Jamie Nicholls.

Lizzy x

I’m here- it has begun – this is it.

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Sochip-Plane

Approaching Sochi!

The past week of settling into the Olympic task ahead was a lot stranger that I’d thought it would be. Since I started to really believe that I could qualify for the Olympics I’d been rehearsing each individual part of the Olympic Dream. From finishing the World Cup circuit, the kitting out, interviews, packing my bags in my flat, flying with the rest of TeamGB out to Sochi and arriving in the Athlete Village. None of these events happened how I imagined they would. It transpired that all of the jobs that I would usually do within a weeks break back in the UK would be set as normal- food shopping, sprint training, weight training, seeing my family etc. All of these ‘normal’ things were surrounded by very abnormal conversations about the Winter Olympics, my first Olympics, my hopes and expectations and my partner in crime Mervyn.

I spent one afternoon training and lifting close to my personal best in the gym, running around full of adrenaline and pumped for the session, and then straight over to the City of Bath for a sponsors evening in a cocktail dress, excusing myself for a sneeze of cough. These two roles of my job as an athlete are polar opposites, with the best way of explaining how a ‘nice young lady’ throws herself down the ice shoot at 90mph is that I become a very different animal when it’s time to train. Stepping into the BOA kitting out room and seeing all the wonderful lounging and performance wear which’ll help me on the days when I need it most, was like another job ticked off the list. When I step towards an interviewer laden with cameras and microphones I become the articulate, warm, and approachable Lizzy intent on trying to inspire someone who might just catch an interview or read the paper. As soon as I arrived at Heathrow my body and mind went into the travelling groove; getting hydrated and fuelled ready for the journey with lots of regular movement and stretching.

The Olympic Dream which I though this would be is so different to what I have experienced so far. I am intent on doing my best; I get up early and am often the first to breakfast and the first to pack my bags- only 2 days before training this week! And when I give myself a moment to lift my head up and look around, tears flow down my cheeks with pride. There is no where in the World I would rather be and no one else I’d rather share this with than my beautiful family and my team here who all give me so much strength.

I’d like to share this journey with you all. Not through twitter updates and quick photos or comments here and there, but through my story written properly. I will show you my life over each and every day that I am here, I will tell you the truth and bring you into my life.

Thank you all for your ongoing support. We are here- we made it begin- this is it.

Lizzy x

This is My Year…

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After another World Cup race win last Friday in Igls, to tell you that I am intending on taking the Overall World Cup title in just 2 days time doesn’t seem enough excitement for one week..

I HAVE BEEN SELECTED TO COMPETE FOR GREAT BRITAIN
AT THE 2014 WINTER OLYMPICS!

Now that’s the sentence that I’ve been waiting 5 years to say! I’m extremely proud and quite relieved to get to this point, having spent such a long time getting here I’m totally focussed on enjoying my first Winter Olympics.

I love sliding at the Sochi track, and I can’t wait to get back there in a few weeks. I am an athlete through and through, and those who know me know that I am extremely competitive! I never go into a race to finish second and that’s the same for any World Cup race as well as the Olympics.

The Modern Olympics plays an important part in our society, promoting peace and equality as well as inspiring others to achieve in any walk of life. 90 years after the first Winter Olympics in Chamonix I’m proud to know that I will become a part of the most special event within my sport, as I will forever be an Olympian.

To find out who’ll be competing with me, use the Team GB website- TeamGB
Please continue to follow my journey here as I’ll be blogging all the way up until the race on the 13th and 14th February.

Please follow, like, share, and support me on all social media. Spread the word of the Sochi Winter Olympics!

Lizzy x