When 2018 was the greatest year of your life - what do you do for an encore? That's the question that faces skeleton star Laura Deas as she heads into 2019.
Last February, Deas won a scintillating bronze medal at the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang – as good friend and fellow Team GB star Lizzy Yarnold took gold to defend her title.
Then in June, the roles were reversed with Yarnold the bridesmaid and Deas this time the bride, as she got married to long-term boyfriend Richard Green.
“2018 was the best year of my life so far,” explains Deas. “It exceeded all of my expectations and I had a fantastic time.
“It was lovely to be able to celebrate with people last summer, both about the Olympics and at our wedding as well.
“It was brilliant having Lizzy as a bridesmaid. I was a bridesmaid at her wedding a couple of years ago, so she’s been there and I’ve been with her through some of the most important moments in our lives. We share a very close bond.
“The timing of the wedding was deliberate in the sense that I wanted to give myself a different focus after the Olympics.
“As it turns out, because of my success in PyeongChang I had an incredibly busy time with media commitments and everything else when I got back so that meant we were quite up against it with the wedding planning to get everything done!
“I definitely wasn’t bored, put it that way! But I was really ready to get back into the new season when it came round.”
Frustratingly, the early stages of the 2018-19 campaign haven’t gone to plan on the ice.
Concussion ruled Deas out of the season-opening World Cup event in Sigulda in early December before a seventh-place finish in Winterberg later that month was followed by coming eighth in Altenberg last weekend.
So, what are her targets for that 2019 encore?
“I’m aiming for the World Championships [in Whistler in March],” she adds. “I’ve had some really good World Cup results there before and I enjoy the four-heat race format, so I’m looking to put in a good performance and aim for a medal.”
Deas admits the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing currently feel a long time away – “I’m going season-by-season at the moment and just looking to peak for the World Championships each year” – although an Olympic cycle does have a tendency to fly by.
She became the first Welsh person to medal at a Winter Olympics by sealing bronze in South Korea, a fact that makes it into her Twitter bio, and got her just reward for years of hard work.
Yet that’s not going to alter the Wrexham-born slider’s mentality or approach moving forward.
“For me it doesn’t really change anything because I always knew that I was capable of winning a medal,” she states.
“I always knew I had that potential and that I had enough talent and the right mental attitude to do it.
“I guess I’ll take forward the confidence that I was able to achieve it when it really mattered, but I feel like the same person this season.”
With double Olympic champion Yarnold now retired, 30-year-old Deas is the most experienced head in the GB skeleton squad – being joined by Maddy Smith and Kim Murray on the World Cup circuit this season.
Team GB’s proud record of being the only nation to medal in women’s skeleton at every Winter Olympics since its introduction in 2002 appears to be in safe hands, with a fresh pipeline of talent emerging.
And Deas is embracing the mentor role that comes with her years of experience at the elite level.
“We’re a close group of people who spend a lot of time in each other’s company, so inevitably when talks turns to skeleton I do get questions about ‘how did you find this’ or ‘how would you approach that’,” she explains
“It’s nice to be able to give back to the younger sliders coming through because I know when I was in their shoes it was so useful to have the experienced, senior athletes willing to give advice.
“There’s so much talent coming through the ranks now. We’ve lost some of the senior athletes but we’ve got so much strength in depth that I really think we’ll see some impressive results this season.”
While 2018 will always hold a special place in Laura Deas’ heart, 2019 could yet give it a run for its money.