Wednesday, 7 December 2011

First snowman of the winter

Today I really wanted to build a snowman, we have had constant snow for three days here in La Plagne, so it felt only right to have a little fun, So Richard (team manager), Kay (physio) and I decided to make one...."Alan" was born!!

New World cup track La Plagne

La Plagne is an interesting track, new to most sliders as the last world cup race here was in 2002, before I even knew what skeleton was! Its good as everyone is on a even playing field, apart from a a few athletes that were in the ICC race here last year. So far all is going well. The track is hard, fast, lots of pressure and feels wild to go down, there is no "rest" ie straights to get your head around the corners, instead they go straight one into the next, to the next... easy to get lost!! The push at the top is a good 40m long, alot longer and flatter then all other tracks, should suit me well! I have one more day training tomorrow, need to sort out my corner 11-12 where today I literally flew through the air and lost contact with the ice! Race 9am on sat 10th, watch it on Eurosport.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

"On the Road With..."

Back in October, in Lillehammer I spent the day with Matthew Stadlem, who came out to interview and follow me around for the day for one of his programs for BBC News Channel. It will be an insight into what my days are like whilst out on the skeleton circuit. It will be shown on the BBC News channel on sat 10th 04:30 and 22:30, then again on the 11th at 01:30, 10:30 ans 22:30.


It’s the start of the skeleton world cup season. The first race was yesterday in Igls, Austria.I was really happy with my self and my performance especially with my push times which were both 3rd fastest. It was then a shame that I didn’t seem to be able to hold onto this position by the time I was 14 corners down the track and crossing over the finish line, I had to settle for 12th place. Always frustrating when you drop places down the track, my speed was low, and I was loosing out the whole way down. Not sure why at the moment, but technology is such a huge part of this sport, and something is not quite right with my sled/runners/ set up on sled. I will hopefully get it sorted soon and will be back further up the standings where I know I can be. Thanks Charlie Booker for the photos!

Live Leader board photo

Top Gear Live show

The week after selection races I went home for a few days, these were quickly filled up with packing/unpacking but also I was involved in the Top Gear live shows in Birmingham. What great fun, as always, I was in part of the show where a race track had been made up for all different makes and model of cars, old and new. I was the star in the reasonable priced car, and with a live leader board, raced my way around to try and beat who ever else was on their. I got a few practice laps with The Stig, but then the race was on, a bit like my skeleton races, not quite enough time to perfect every corner! Maybe The Stig can come and walk down the skeleton track with me one day and see what he thinks would be the fast line!!

Sunday, 30 October 2011


This year the British selection races are both in Germany, on two different tracks, Winterberg and Altenberg. We will all race and our results will be given points, added up and then the teams selected for the season, deciding who will be on the World cup, Intercontinental and Europa cup teams.
Yesterday was the first runs down the Winterberg track, we have three days of official training with two runs a day, then race on the 1st Nov 9am.
So far its going well, I will test out a few different pairs of runners today, so see how they work on the ice conditions here, and then make a decision as to which ones to races on. I will keep you posted as to how the next’s few days go.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Start of the winter season 2011-12!

I am writing this blog to you from a little log cabin in Lillehammer, Norway, it sounds rather romantic, I am sure your all thinking along the lines of big sofas, log fires, hot chocolate and being all snuggled up warm… but disappointingly it is far from that! For starters I can hardly see the keyboard as the lights are so dim, and there is no light outside even though its only 10am! No fire exists or sofas, but some hard backed chairs instead! So why am I in this log cabin? No, its not any crazy challenge that I maybe on, but it is the start of the skeleton season. That time of year has come around again so soon. Last week the whole of the British Skeleton Team had a pre season review camp in Bath, going through the season ahead, setting goals for the team and each individual athlete, arranging travel and hotels, the list is endless in what we covered! So I found myself a few days ago packing up my bags, sorting out all my kit and equipment, buying up my favourite food goodies, such as tea bags, marmite, honey, yes honey a big necessity for me, I love the stuff! My comfort food!
All our kit went onto the vans that were getting driven out by support team, so luckily we didn’t have to transport it all up to London for our flights a few days later. Love travelling with just hand luggage, what bliss!
It will be my first full competition circuit since the Olympic year in 2009/10, so I am interested to see how I feel when I am back on ice and sliding again in competitions. To start with the whole British team are here in Lillehammer, we have our first day of sliding today, after having two days sorting out our sleds and getting them ready to be fit to slide! I am on the same sled, Arthur, that I was on at the Olympics, although like you would MOT a car, a lot has changed in him! Hope he behaves himself for me!
We have our first selection race on the 1st November in Winterberg a track in Germany, then a second race in Altenberg another German track on the 6th Nov. I will let you know how they go.

BT Olympic Ball

I attend the BT BOA Olympic ball that took place this year at Kensington Olympia on the 7th October in London, it was the biggest event so far with over 2500 attending. The month before I had been part of a photo shoot to promote the ball up in the BT tower in London, what great views we all had from up there! Great photo guys…
The ball is a great event with the aim to raise money for the British Olympic Association who organise everything that the athletes need to go and compete at an Olympics, from hotels to kit to travel, the list goes on. The ball this year raised over £700,000 an amazing amount. Thank you to everyone that donated, or bought the auction items on the night to help raise this huge amount. I need to find out now who won the bid to have me teach them on the skeleton track in Austria this year!
I would like to say a thank you to Watling Goldsmiths who lent me some jewellery for the night, I was able to go into their shop in Lacock which is just outside Bath, and chose anything that I wanted to wear with my dress. I felt amazing wearing their beautiful hand crafted pieces, so thank you Jane.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Olympic Day Run Race

On the 24th June I helped out at Bath University with the Olympic day run.
The University of Bath hosted a sporting celebration on behalf of the British Olympic Foundation to celebrate International Olympic Day.
Building on the International Olympic Committee’s three pillars of Move, Learn and Discover, the day consisted of different secondary school students taking part in the run and a sports festival to discover new skills, a junior academy for students to learn and debate Olympic themes and an art display. More than 400 young people attended the event at the Sports Training Village. I started off the race with a few words to encourage and inspire the young athletes.

Top Gear

Are you a fan of Top Gear? (I am!) If you haven’t already seen it, you need to get onto i-player and see the first of the new series that started last week (26th June), in which I was featured. I went out to Lillehammer to race the new Mini rally car down the track on my sled. James May was in the rally car and I was on the skeleton track, it was great fun although hard work as we filmed for two nights solid 6pm -7am! I was shattered by the end! I was in the studio last week for the last bit of filming and for a little chat with Jeremy Clarkson! Well I didn’t get to say too much in the end, but great great fun, thanks guys!

Wimbledon 2011

I was lucky to be invited to Wimbledon on the middle Sports Saturday, I received an invitation last year and so was thrilled when I received another this year. It really is a grand day out, an early start to get dressed up (making sure my dress covered my dodgy knee!) and ready with my good friend Vicky, who had stayed over in Bath to join me for the occasion. We got to Wimbledon in good time and were met at the gates by lots of sports fans wanting autographs; they would have got a good number, as I was joining many sporting greats, such as Jonathon Edwards, Mark Foster, Sir Steve Redgrave and Martina Navratilova. It’s always lovely to be standing next to fellow athletes whom you admire so much.
Also invited to the Royal Box were many service men and women from the Armed Forces and it was particularly memorable how they received a long ovation from the crowd in honour of them all. The tennis was superb: I was lucky to have Roger Federer and Djokovic to watch - a first for me - and now today Djokovic has gone on to win Wimbledon 2011. Well done to him!
I did start thinking, throughout the matches that day, how tennis players move to that next level of competition. As an athlete who has now reached the highest level of my sport, I know the dedication and hard work that goes into reaching that level. One of which is through technology, research and development. I admit I know nothing about tennis as a sport, apart from simply the scoring! But my brain was whirring with how they must improve to the next step. When I saw Federer suddenly change his racket half-way through his match, I couldn’t help but think, “Does he know exactly how many times he can hit the ball before the tension in his racket changes and starts to have an effect on his power?” and “I wonder if tennis players work with cricketers; is there a cross-over with putting spin on the ball and how to hit it?” Maybe they already do all of this…but it made me think!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Freshford village fete

On Saturday I went along as a guest to Freshford village, a beautiful little quaint English village just outside Bath. They asked if I would open up the summer fete for them, which I was delighted to do. It had been ages since I had been to one, so I took some girlfriends along to join me, and we enjoyed a sunny, yes sunny! summers day out, playing on the tombola, eating cakes with cups of tea and watching the locals brownies on the maypole.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Bath Night Walk for Macmillan Cancer Support

Tonight, the 11th June, I will be starting the Bath Night walk in aid of Macmillan cancer support. It starts at 9pm at the Bath Rec, in the centre of the town. The walk will be about 4 miles long, so you can take a steady pace and enjoy the beautiful scenery around the City.
Macmillan Cancer Support improves the lives of people affected by cancer, providing practical, medical, emotional and financial support. Working alongside people affected by cancer, Macmillan works to improve cancer care. One in three of us will get cancer. Two million of us are living with it. If you are affected by cancer Macmillan can help so please come along and take part, It is open to women only, but men should in no way feel left out! Dozens of volunteers are needed to cheer the walkers on and man the route. Registration is £10, and no minimum sponsorship is required (though an objective of £100 is gently encouraged). To sign up for the Bath Night Walk or find out more information, simply visit where you can register online or download a hard copy form to complete. Walkers will then be sent a Bath Night Walk pack with everything they need to help raise their sponsorship target and prepare for the walk. see you there!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Decathlon Store Relaunch

Last week I drove up and down to Nottingham twice, a 320 mile round trip! I was at the Ikea retail park just outside Nottingham. I was asked to do a talk, to meet and greet people in the store, and give any advise on training. I also took part in many activities that had been set up in the big car park, so I scaled up climbing walls, kicked footballs as fast as possible, attempted to kick a rugby ball into different sized holes, I had a go on their archery set, table tennis and of course….space hoppers, having races against many children!! I almost lost my Olympic medal to one of them who was determined to take it home with him! Highly recommend heading to a Decathlon store for any sports equipment you need for any activity.

Hayesfield School New Sports Centre

Hayesfield school in Bath used to be my old secondary school, so when I was asked whether I would mind having the new performing arts and sports centre named after me, I felt very honoured. They have built a fantastic new building which includes a sports hall, gymnasium, multi gym, netball courts and all weather pitch as well as performing arts facilities for music and dance and Art teaching. There is also a new refectory and auditorium as well as a new reception area and open learning centre at the core of the building. I officially opened the building and said some encouraging words to the girls, I hope they will be inspired to take part in sport and that this building will be a place where the community and local area can all use.

Sports Industry Awards

On the 11th May I went up to London to attend the Sports Industry Awards at Battersea Evolution. I was there the year before, but this defiantly seemed to be the type of event that seems to get bigger and bigger as over 1,700 guests attended the spectacular 10th Anniversary celebration. Sports stars and celebrities were invited along with all the top business and companies in the sports industry. I was asked to present the award for Best Integrated Sport Marketing Campaign, along with Geoff Shreeves. I still find it nerve raking standing in front of that many people! However I enjoyed the night, was on a great table, mostly because it was made up of other MTC athletes such as the lovely Sally Gunnell who i was sat next to.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Kinect for Xbox 360

I have never been a computer games kind of a girl but when I was asked if I wanted to represent and promote the Kinect Sports interactive game for the Xbox 360 in London last week I had the urge to say yes and give it a go. I was keen to practice before hand so I got my first ever Xbox sent to my house and got some of the skeleton girls around to play with me. We had all just been to the gym and had had a full days training so to be honest we were all ready just to sit down with a cup of tea, but oh no, within no more then 5 Min's I had set up the Xbox having never set up anything like this before, I was a bit apprehensive but it was so easy, few plugs here and there and "ta da" we were ready to play. I had moved the furniture around to create a good space in my small living room and then the fun began! We laughed so much watching each other and seeing ourselves on screen, the Xbox copies what you are doing as your character on the screen moves around following your movements, amazing, so clever. All this practice of athletics, football, table tennis and volleyball was so that when I became a team captain on the 14th April in London I would know what I was doing! I was with other team captain, Graeme Swann, fresh from the cricket World Cup who also had Darius Knight our London 2012 table tennis hopeful and I was paired with Louis Smith, our first British gymnast to win an Olympic medal (pommel horse) since the 1920s, and London medal hopeful. We all spent the day playing against each other having an amazing time chatting to journalists and school children who had come along to play with us.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Sport England Announcement

My next trip was to Birmingham University to join The Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP, to join Sport England to announce projects benefiting from investment to get more university students playing sport. 41 initiatives have secured National Lottery funding through Active Universities. They are giving tens of thousands of students the chance to try out a new sport, or get back into one they’ve tried before, as part of the mass participation legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I believe its really important to boosting student participation and it should have a lasting impact on grassroots sport. Research shows that students who do play sport at university are far more likely to continue participating throughout their lives which can only be a good thing.

AXA Ambition Awards

My trips up and down to London seem to have increased recently, I have become the AXA Ambition Awards ambassador. So went up to The Houses of Commons to launch the awards . The awards have been set up to find five exceptional young people aged between 11-18 who really want to succeed, whether its in , enterprise, the arts, science, sport, or in the community. They are an opportunity to make dreams come true. Each winner will win a prize designed specifically for them, such as mentoring from one of the five ambassadors. Go onto to find out how you can apply or if you know someone who deserves it. I had been up in a radio studio at 5am doing over 15 interviews on various stations to promote the AXA awards so was shattered by the end of the day.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

10 Downing Street Visit

I was up in London this week, I had been invited to a party at 10 Downing Street hosted by Samantha Cameron and Anna Wintour of US Vogue! It was London Fashion Week and a small gathering of designers and models had been invited, so their I was standing next to Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Claudia Schiffer… the list could go on, I was amazed! I was looking at people I had only ever seen in your favourite fashion magazine! Luckily I was wearing a dress that Burberry had loaned me from a previous occasion that I hadn’t worn yet, I felt like I was dressed appropriately and was chuffed when several people commented on how lovely it looked along with the gorgeous hand bag I was carrying! So thank you Burberry for making me feel and look special amongst the room full of super models!

One Year Anniversary of the GOLD

Last Saturday I spent the whole day baking cakes! My house smelled amazing like a fresh bakery. I was having that evening Champagne and Cup Cake party to celebrate my year’s anniversary of the big race, so I had decided to host a little family and friends gathering, along with my Gold Medal!
I was half way through baking when I realised that I had an interview arranged and was meant to meet someone in Bath. I met Ian Stafford, who wanted to do the interview for his website We ended up going back to my flat as the cakes were in full process and in a production line to get ready for that evening…I was decorating everyone different, so was taking a little time! It also meant that Ian could test out my new raspberry ones! I chatted to him about life in the past year, what I’ve been up to, what my dreams are in the future. A lovely guy always makes it easier to do interviews when the person generally is interested in you as a person!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Artizan Hair Stylist Zac Fennell works his magic on my hair!

My hairdresser and friend Zac Fennell from Artizan Hair in Bath, asked if he could do a fashion shoot with me a little while ago...I have just got the photos back they are AMAZING! I also had the chance to wear the most beautifull jewlery from designer Jane Watling, take a look at her wonderful creations,

End of the road this "winter"

My life on the road has come to the end for another winter season. I competed in just the last four of the Skeleton World Cup races Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. A traveller’s lifestyle, a different hotel each week, different room and change of bed! Daily schedules dictate what we’re supposed to be doing and when. Now my competitions are over and I find myself a little lost!
I’ll be honest, it was a lot harder then I had imagined, coming back to the races after deciding to take the first half of the season off. There are no training guides to tell you what you are meant to feel like when you race again after experiencing such a high, like the one I had following Vancouver. You suddenly become more critical and as is common in most professional sport, you start to analyse every last detail and question things you didn’t previously. In all of my four races I didn’t perform to the level I wanted to, or felt I was capable of, which is really hard to cope with.
It’s good to feel these emotions though, because it reaffirms what I always believed, that while the competitive fire in my belly dimmed momentarily, I always knew I wanted to keep improving and build on what I achieved at the Olympics. For now though, I will take a little time out, find some adventures away from skeleton and refresh my brain, so it is ready to train, train, train again!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

St Moritz Race 7

The beautiful St Moritz, the only natural man made track in the world, made from blocks of ice from the frozen lake. Blue sky and sun, training...pretty good; the race...could have gone better!!
First run was solid, although I did think it would and could have been quicker but I was very confident I would be able to pick up some time on the 2nd run. On the 2nd run as soon as I loaded onto my sled I could feel something wasn’t right, I kept getting pulled to the left so I struggled to keep it under control and was getting quite a few little hits and skids all the way down the track, so I dropped several places, wrong way around! I was planning to pick up some places!
That evening the coaches and I checked my sled (I do this before and after races, to make sure everything is in working order) we found that quite a few pieces in it were bent, not good! Don’t know how it happened, we are still trying to solve that mystery, but it did at least give me a reason as to why I was pulled to the left the whole time!
The best thing about the whole day though was the super surprise visit of my boyfriend, Petr. He had driven from Prague to see me race, I hadn’t seen him since the New Year! Was a great moment to see his face suddenly standing on the track shouting at me at the start! At least that gave me a smile to remember in St Moritz.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Great photos Charlie Booker

Thanks to Charlier Booker who takes great pictures of me sliding.... This is from todays race, 22nd Jan, World cup race 6, 5th Place Winterberg, Bronze European Championships.

5th World Cup 3rd European Championships in Winterberg, Germany

So the second race of my season just happened this morning in Winterberg, Germany and I came 5th. Very happy. It was also a double race as the European Championships were added in so I was 3rd in this. Again very good day at the office for me.
Everyone who knows Winterberg will know how crazy the weather is over here, but it started off not too badly, clear enough sky and a good start to the race, till about 30mins in and the light snow started, and gradually got a bit heavier...but wasn’t too drastic so everyone remained calm enough!
I had a wee few minutes of panic it has to be said before my first run when I was trying to get my coat off and my zip got jammed!!! I could hear them calling my name as the slider before me had finished, so I had to whisper to Micky my coach "Micky im stuck!!" and he also tried to yank down the zip....finally somehow I did get my coat off to push my sled but was a bit flustered and not really concentrating enough to do a good push! Second run I got the physio tape and gave my coat a slight little operation with some tape to stick down that flap inside the zip so no other issues would arise!!! Zips!!
Off to St Moritz tomorrow for the next race, an 8 hours drive, up into the beautiful mountains of Switzerland.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

First Race Back after Olympics

Yesterday the 14th Jan, I had my first race back from my 11 months away from the ice. The race was in Igls, near Innsbruck in Austria. It felt like the first day of school when I walked into the start room on the first day of official training, everyone had been away since October and had already done team races and then four other world cup races so were well into the swing of it, so I felt like the new kid!
I soon got back into the routine of things and training had been going really well,I was always in the top three of my training group so was feeling confident about getting a top 6 finish which would have been good for the first race back.
I was aware that my pushing at the start was a bit slower then I have normally done in previous years, but due to lack of summer training I was prepared for this.
Race day was very warm, well the whole week had been warm, and even one of days was severely delayed due to the rain damaging the track, so most of us cancelled training. But race day was about 6 degrees, compared to the week before of -14! I was last off...because your start number is from World Ranking points and I had non due to not having raced this season. The track slows very quickly here because of the warm weather and so a layer of frost comes over the top of the by the time it came to my first run about 50 minuets after the first slider had gone down, I could feel the sled sticking to the ice,I had a solid run but could only manage 17th place, not good!!
It did mean that then after the track had been prepared and spritzed with water again, I was then 3rd off for my second run, as it goes in reverse order. This gave me the quick ice and I slid another solid run that got me down in the 2nd quickest time out of everyones 2nd runs..but only moved me up to 12th place overall.

I was dissapointed of course, It is hard to come back to racing and not do as well as you are used to. But I have to start somewhere on my journey back to competitive racing, and can now only look forward to next weeks race....Winterberg World Cup race 6. Another track full of unpredictable weather!! what joys!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Youth Sport Trust talent camp, Loughborough

I have been helping out recently with the Youth Sport Trust, I joined them for a 3 day talent camp at Loughborough University, where about 80 of our next generation sporting champions from across country were all joined together to find out what it takes to become the best. The National Talent Orientation Camp offered the 14-18 year olds a unique opportunity to develop their skills on a personal, sporting academic and vocational level, to mix with many sporting champions in their sports, to ask questions and to learn.
The sports represented at the 2010 camp this year were canoeing, cycling, rowing, hockey, wheelchair basketball, badminton, sailing, rugby and netball. I was there to help put the youngsters through a series of physical, mental and educational challenges and scenarios, whilst also offering advice and support. I joined in with many of the sports including some of the wheelchair basketball sessions, a great team of inspiring athletes. I was able to give my top tips, advice and help to everyone during my sessions with them, I wish them all the very best to achieve their goals and dreams.

Receiving my MBE at Buckingham Palace

The past few months have been so crazy busy that I forgot to mention how beautiful my MBE award is that I received at Buckingham Palace! It was a wonderful day out for my parents and me even though it was a bit brrrrrr as we stood around for the photos after the ceremony! To be inside the rooms at Buckingham Palace was a real privilege I will never forget.

Back to racing!

So my first race will be in Igls, Austria. A few days ago I searched out my big bags and started to pack my kit, last time I packed was to go to the Olympics 11 months ago. It has been a long time away from the ice and competitions, Im feeling a little apprehensive about sliding again. Lots of questions are going around in my head…will it feel different now? Will I still enjoy it, will I still have the drive inside to compete? I know I am not as prepared as the past years, so It will be a different mentally I have to adopt now for these races, but one that Im looking forward to.
Arthur my sled and I have a lot of bonding to do, and quick!! we have missed out on the last 3 months of sliding and racing, so lots of catching up to do on the other competitors! I have one week before my first race which is the 14th Jan, which will be shown on British Eurosport, I will keep you updated on how it went and how it felt!

BBC Sports Personality

What an amazing night that was, standing in front of that huge crowd in Birmingham, in front of brilliant sports stars, to be part of the same group and in the top ten of the 2010 sports personality awards was a proud moment for me and my family. I was very lucky to be loaned a beautiful dress from Burberry, thank you, and some exquisite jewellery designed and made by a local jewellers Watling goldsmiths and silversmiths of Lacock near Bath, (take a look
I didn’t realise I would get interviewed up on stage during the night, my brain suddenly scrabbled as I looked up at the 1000’s of people, whilst looking around at everyone, including David Beckham right there in front of me! I have to admit I did get a wee bit excited and made sure I went around and had my photo with everyone, including the lovely Victoria Beckham! Made my night!

Power Plate now at The Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath

I was asked by The Royal Cresecent Hotel in Bath, to go and try out their new Power Plate which they now have in their gym. What a great piece of equipment, for an instant workout, in 20mins a day you can tone and strengthen your whole body, I highly recomend going up there and having a go!