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A MELKSHAM athlete, Laura Deas, is currently competing in the skeleton World Cup’s 2017-18 season, which began this week in Lake Placid, USA.
Laura is currently ranked eighth in the world in a sport which sees riders reach 130km an hour, with their faces just centimetres above the ice.
The World Cup features eight races across North America and Europe between now and January, and Laura hopes that success in the competition will lead to her selection for the 2018 Winter Olympics, which will take place in PyeongChang, South Korea, from 9th-25th February.
Speaking to the Melksham News this week, Laura said, “It feels great to be selected for the World Cup series once again, and it’s extra special this year because it gives me a great chance to be selected for the Olympic Games in February. I love racing in Lake Placid and it’s a great place to start the season as it has such a rich history of sliding sport.
“I’m hoping to medal here in Lake Placid- it’s one of my favourite tracks and I missed out on the chance to do really well last year because of a weather-affected run, so I’m aiming to make up for it this year.
“I’ve been preparing for the upcoming season with a long summer of full time training at the University of Bath. This is mainly weights and speed training, and although we don’t have an ice track in the UK, we have a great push start facility at the university where we practise pushing a sled in the summer months.”
Whilst her focus is currently fixed on the World Cup, Laura has high hopes for Olympic glory next year. She told Melksham News, “My aim is to win a medal at the Olympics in February, but the World Cup series comes first with eight races around the globe. If I do well enough in those, I’ll be selected, which would be a huge honour and very exciting.”
Laura moved to Melksham after joining the National Training Centre at the University of Bath. She ended the 2016/17 season ranked No 6 in the World Cup standings, having finished in the top 10 in all bar one of the eight World Cup races.
She was tenth at her third World Championships in Konigssee in February 2017 and ended the season eighth in the overall IBSF World Rankings.
Laura started skeleton back in 2009 through a UK Sport talent programme, Girls4Gold, because she loved the thought of competing at the Winter Olympics. Her sporting background is extensive but far from typical given that sprinting wasn’t her forte and her only running experience had been cross country.
She had been eventing professionally prior to her skeleton selection and had also excelled at tetrathlon, captaining Wales in international competitions. Laura had also played competitive netball and represented North Wales at hockey.