Andy Wood's Blog

GB Skeleton Athlete

Winterberg Men’s World Cup 4 Time Sheet

Winterberg Men’s WC4


December 12, 2009 Posted by | Race Time Sheets | Leave a comment

10th in Winterberg

Back on Ol’ Faithful and back to a respectable finish in a race!

Having 6 runs to get used to a different sled again wasn’t ideal preparation, but I seemed to get back into the groove on my old sled pretty quickly.  I have a few people to thank for their 6 hour drive through the night to collect my sled earlier in the week.  The work didn’t stop there, I spent so much time this week working on my sled.  As I’ve put on weight since last season (good weight!),  my combined weight with my sled was over the limit.  I had to change the weight plates for lighter ones, reposition some of the smaller weights so that I was well balanced when lying on my sled and cut loads of bits of foam into funny shapes to fill out all the gaps in the sled!  I missed a couple of gym sessions in the process but maybe the rest from physical training was good.

In the race I pushed 2 PB’s and for both runs I was the 3rd fastest man in the whole field on the start.  The weather wasn’t good – snow on and off and poor visibility so the track wasn’t fast.  I was 12th after the first run and managed to gain 2 spots on the second taking me up to 10th position and my best finish on the World Cup to date.  I stood in the leader box along with my Dad for 2 runs, hoping to gain some more positions and waving a happy birthday banner for my niece Tilly who turns 1 next week!

So all the planning, the trip to Innsbruck, the night driving and the 10 hours of sled work all paid off thankfully!

Next stop Altenberg, also in Germany, for the 5th and final World Cup race before the Christmas break.

Men’s top 6:

1 Martins Dukurs 01:59.06 Latvia
2 Frank Rommel 01:59.81 00.75 Germany
3 Alexander Tretiakov 01:59.87 00.81 Russia
4 Tomass Dukurs 01:59.98 00.92 Latvia
5 Michi Halilovic 02:00.08 01.02 Germany
6 Kristan Bromley 02:00.51 01.45 Great Britain

Women’s top 6:

1 Kerstin Szymkowiak 02:04.72 Germany
2 Mellisa Hollingsworth 02:05.22 00.50 Canada
3 Svetlana Trunova 02:05.49 00.77 Russia
4 Shelley Rudman 02:05.54 00.82 Great Britain
4 Michelle Kelly 02:05.54 00.82 Canada
6 Donna Creighton 02:05.73 01.01 Great Britain
6 Marion Trott 02:05.73 01.01 Germany

December 11, 2009 Posted by | Blog Archive | 2 Comments

Busy day tomorrow

We had an extra day of sliding on the Winterberg track today.  I had to use my new sled as my old one (which I’m switching back to) is on its way up from Austria.  There seemed to be an issue with the setup today as I kept being dragged left on my way down the track!  Luckily today was all about getting the orientation of the track in my head before the official training starts tomorrow.

Before our afternoon training starts tomorrow, I’ve got a busy morning!  I have half my old sled here in Winterberg and the main frame is on its way from the sled mechanic in Austria.  I have to fit it all back together, find the right body position on the sled so that its balanced, acquire what we call ‘footprint’ settings (the measurement of how much we bow the runners), then I’ll be on the blower to the London Evening Standard who would like to do an interview for the build up to the Olympics.  I’m not sure when it’ll be out but I’ll let you know.  Then I need to find a hotel in Winterberg for my Dad to stay in, as he’ll be coming out to watch the race on Friday 🙂 and find time to do my gym training!

December 7, 2009 Posted by | Blog Archive | Leave a comment

Krampus is coming!

I’m in Innsbruck, Austria for a quick pitstop to change sleds.  My visit here coincides with the Krampus festival.  It’s when Saint Nicolaus comes to town and if the kids have been good, they receive a bag of sweets.  If they’ve been a right pain all year, instead of Saint Nicolaus visiting them Krampus comes after them, which is a big hairy monster who attacks the children by hitting them with a fistful of sticks!  It’s customary for teenagers to dress up as krampus at night and attack people at random.  Time to keep my eyes peeled and have my running legs on I think!

I must of been good this year as I got to meet Saint Nicolaus 🙂

December 5, 2009 Posted by | Blog Archive | Leave a comment

Slug-like in Cesana

Having arrived in Italy a few days early, we had the opportunity to do a few extra runs before the 3 days of official training started.  This was great news, as it would give me more time to play around with my sled setup and find what works best for the conditions and the type of track here in Cesana.  I tried many different variations of the setup but I couldn’t find one which gave me a competitive down time.

As a result, I went into the race today well prepared and motivated as always, but not really having high expectations for a good finish.  It was just as well as I managed a 21st place in the final standings.  Thinking back over the single run that I had in the race, I can’t place a finger on where I lost so much time.  It was a good run.  Even my coaches who watched me on the big TV as I descended said that they couldn’t see anything wrong with my lines.

With this race result in mind, as well my training and race performances in N.America, We’ve decided it would be best if I move onto a different sled for the next race.  Don’t get me wrong, I think these new Blackroc sleds are fantastic and have huge potential, it’s just that I need to get results now and I think I would need a lot more runs to get the most out of this sled.  Unfortunately time is not on my side.  It’s Olympic season and I need to perform if I want a chance of going to the Vancouver Games.

So now we’re heading off to Winterberg in Germany.  I’m taking a detour via Innsbruck to get setup on a sled which is similar to my Bromley one which I’ve been using for the past few years.  Hopefully then I’ll be back performing at my best again.

Men’s Race Results:

1 Jon Montgomery 01:55.54 Canada
2 Martins Dukurs 01:56.01 00.47 Latvia
3 Jeff Pain 01:56.05 00.51 Canada
4 Michael Douglas 01:56.15 00.61 Canada
5 Sandro Stielicke 01:56.25 00.71 Germany
5 Frank Rommel 01:56.25 00.71 Germany

Women’s Race Results:

1 Shelley Rudman 01:57.46 Great Britain
2 Marion Trott 01:57.81 00.35 Germany
3 Mellisa Hollingsworth 01:58.13 00.67 Canada
4 Kerstin Szymkowiak 01:58.32 00.86 Germany
5 Katie Uhlaender 01:58.61 01.15 United States of America
6 Noelle Pikus-Pace 01:58.76 01.30 United States of America

December 4, 2009 Posted by | Blog Archive | 2 Comments

Cesana World Cup 3 Time Sheet

Cesana Men’s WC3

December 4, 2009 Posted by | Race Time Sheets | Leave a comment

Lake Placid World Cup 2 Time Sheet

Lake Placid Men’s WC2

December 1, 2009 Posted by | Race Time Sheets | Leave a comment

Lake Placid World Cup 2 and a brief spell back home!

Apologies for the lack of updates recently!

It seems like a lifetime since we were in the state of New York, racing at the Lake Placid track for the second World Cup race of the season.

Having spent some time on this track a month earlier for our national qualifiers, I was hoping to get a good result.  Training was ok, the weather conditions that were constantly changing made it difficult to decide what sled setup and which type of runners to use each day.  In the build up to the race, we had slow days where the track was a few seconds slower than normal, but we also had a fast day where the track record was unofficially broken (unfortunately not by me!).

Race day came and the track had reverted back to the slow ice again.  I was fairly happy with my first run, although a bit of trouble with corner 14 placed me in 15th at the interval.  I was having no problems with this corner until the last day of training, when suddenly it felt quite different.  With the bobsleigh World Cup race being held over the weekend after our race, the track can get a fair amount of damage during the training days due to the large number of skeleton and bobsleigh runs down the hill.  This means repairs to the ice are needed here and there as well as changes to the shape of some of the corners.  I found it difficult to find a new line through corner 14 and I was left to try new steers during the second run of the race. It didn’t quite work out and I had a worse exit of corner 14 than the 1st run!  A couple of scuffs along the wall and I had dropped 3 positions to 18th overall.

I was disappointed as I had higher expectations for this race.

The following day we headed for Montreal and flew back to Heathrow to spend a few days in the UK.  Being on the skeleton circuit can be a drain physically and mentally but it’s not until we get back home that it really hits us.  It took me 4 days to get back to my normal sleeping pattern!  A bit of R&R then it was back into the gym to prepare for the next race!

We’re now in Cesana Italy, the venue of the 2006 Olympic skeleton, bobsleigh and luge competitions.  Today was our first of three training days before the third World Cup race of the season on Friday.

Men’s Race Results:

1 Frank Rommel Germany
2 Sandro Stielicke Germany
3 Martins Dukurs Latvia
4 Tomass Dukurs Latvia
5 Eric Bernotas United States of America
6 Michi Halilovic Germany

Womens Race Results:

1 Mellisa Hollingsworth Canada
2 Shelley Rudman Great Britain
3 Marion Trott Germany
4 Amy Williams Great Britain
5 Noelle Pikus-Pace United States of America
6 Amy Gough Canada

December 1, 2009 Posted by | Blog Archive | Leave a comment

Lake Placid Training

It was time for a fresh start in Lake Placid.

I learnt what I could from the sour Park City experience and made some changes to my sled setup.  I’m glad to say that my times are a lot better now 🙂  I’ve tested different sled configurations and tried different types of runners in training so far.

We’ve had 2 days of training with 2 more to go before our race on Friday.   Due to the large number of competitors, the athletes are split into 2 groups for training sessions.  This makes it difficult to fully gauge how we’re doing, as half the mens field is in the other group.  Comparing finish times between the 2 groups isn’t that accurate either, as the track can get faster or slower between the 2 groups training sessions.  Nevertheless, the training results are posted on a website at the following location if you’re interested:

Lake Placid training results

Having been at this track for our GB selection races, it’s not that unfamiliar to me.  The ice on the track has changed in a few areas, meaning some steers need adjusting so there’s still more to come in terms of my finish times.

The race on Friday is being televised on Eurosport 2 between 6pm and 8:30pm (uk time).  Hope to see you there!!

Eurosport TV schedule

November 19, 2009 Posted by | Blog Archive | 3 Comments

Park City WC1

It was a disappointing week in Park City.  I was slow throughout training as well as the race.  My lines down the track were by no means perfect, but I was at the back-end of the field all week and I couldn’t place my finger on the problem.  It felt like I was back in Winterberg at the start of the season – struggling for speed even when I’d had a good line down the track.

I had to try something different on race day.  I thought perhaps I was bleeding too much speed in the corners so I decided to try and let the sled run a bit more by easing up on the steers.  This meant I had to work a bit more in the straights between the corners to get back on line, but the outcome was the same – slow.  I was 23rd in the race and I didn’t get to do a 2nd run as the cut-off point is 20th.  To be honest, the top 3 corners were a bit of a mess anyway.
Having had time to reflect on the performance, I think we may have come up with a theory as to what’s going on.  My lack of speed tends to happen when the outside temperature isn’t as cold.  This means I may have to setup my sled a bit different in those conditions, which I’ll be able to try at the location of the second World Cup race in Lake Placid.  We arrived in Lake Placid late last night and it’s been raining all day – perfect for testing out this new theory!  We have a day off tomorrow before sliding commences on Monday.

Park City Men's Podium

Men’s Top 6:

1 Martins Dukurs Latvia
2 Sandro Stielicke Germany
3 Kristan Bromley Great Britain
4 Frank Rommel Germany
5 Zach Lund United States of America
6 Jeff Pain Canada
6 Eric Bernotas United States of America


Park City Women's Podium

Women’s Top 6:

1 Anja Huber Germany
2 Amy Gough Canada
3 Mellisa Hollingsworth Canada
4 Shelley Rudman Great Britain
5 Michelle Kelly Canada
6 Amy Williams Great Britain

November 15, 2009 Posted by | Blog Archive | 3 Comments