The season has almost begun for Great Britain’s top winter athletes, yet for 19 Olympic hopefuls, this month will be the first time they take to the ice in a bid to prove they have what it takes to make it to the podium.
UK Sport’s Power2Podium was a nationwide search for athletes with the potential to become Olympic champions in the sport of skeleton, and following four intense phases of testing, less than 20 now remain.
Throughout November and December the nine female and ten male athletes will travel to Lillehammer in Norway to be tested on the ice by British Skeleton coaches and experts from the English Institute of Sport.
Performance Pathway Scientist Lizzie Wraith, who has been working with the group, explained: "They've performed well so far, but seeing how they cope with the challenging conditions on the ice will be vital; both for the athletes to see if they can adapt to the environment and for us to see how quickly they can learn a complex new skill and how well they can handle the pressure."
One of those hoping to make it through will be 21-year-old Christopher Gray, who previously competed in gymnastics and football, and was attracted to the campaign after enjoying watching Sochi 2014.
He said: “After Sochi I looked online to see if there was anything I could try and the thrill of skeleton appealed to me, it seemed like something really different.
“The best thing we’ve done so far is the push track at Bath, which was a great experience. Keeping up with the exercises each day has been tough, but I’m enjoying the challenge.”
Madelaine Smith, 19, has a background in athletics and swimming and is looking forward to getting on the ice for the first time.
“I might only have this opportunity once so I’ve got to go out there and enjoy it and try and have a good two weeks,” she said.
“I’ve seen a video of Lizzy Yarnold and I was quite relieved that she didn’t do particularly well on her first ice run!”
Wraith added: “It is fantastic to see the progress these athletes have made and the depth of talent within the group is impressive. However, this two week confirmation camp will be the real test for them.”
Previous UK Sport talent campaigns have uncovered Olympic champions Helen Glover and Lizzy Yarnold, as well as Olympic bronze medallist Lutalo Muhammad.