What a yarn! Champion knitter Yarnold is a woman of contrasts

What a yarn! Champion knitter Yarnold is a woman of contrasts

19 February 2018 / 06:32

Adrenaline junkie one moment, knitter the next - double Olympic skeleton champion Lizzy Yarnold is a woman of contrasts.


The Queen of Sliding was front and centre of Team GB's latest edition of Super Saturday - the first Brit to defend a Winter Olympic title and one of an unprecedented three British medallists in one day alongside teammate Laura Deas and freestyle skier Izzy Atkin.

And how did she celebrate? Well she spent the morning after the night pulling out the knitting needles and settling down in front of Australian murder mystery series Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries on Netflix. 

“I woke up really early and didn't know what to do but put on Netflix and chill with some knitting,” she said. 

“I’m only knitting strips because I can’t do a pattern, that's too complicated. But it's very calming.

“My nan taught me to knit years ago and passed away two years ago so it's a way to feel connected to her.”


For someone who has made a career out of dashing down the ice head first on the equivalent of a tea tray, the revelation that she spends her downtime counting stitches may come as a surprise. But not to those in the know.

She celebrated her Sochi gold with a 'nice cup of tea' while her love of The Archers earned her a cameo in the radio soap.

Then there was the bookkeeping course she did for 'fun' during a sabbatical from the sport in 2016 and you can also catch her talking about making lampshades. 

A fan of the Detectorists television series, she listened to the theme tune before her PyeongChang gold-medal run. Four years previous it was Dizzee Rascal. Yarnold is predictably unpredictable. 

Coming into PyeongChang, she hadn't won a race since the 2015 World Championships. Yet by the end of Saturday night she had another Olympic gold to her name after triumphing by nearly half a second.

It was mission accomplished to become the first Brit to retain a Winter Olympic title. She already had the grand slam of major titles after adding European and World gold to her Sochi success.

So does retirement now beckon and the chance to work on those knitting patterns? Yarnold was playing it as cool as the ice she slides over. 

“I think I’ll take a break. I need to get over my chest infection first. I’ll take a good break and get back to you,” she said.

“I feel very motivated today, as I did four years ago and I feel that I can jump back on the sled.

“But I’d recommend any athlete to take a break. It’s a four-year cycle and, even though it’s tempting and you’re desperate to carry on, it’s a long time to be at your best.

“I'm looking forward to being home, remembering that I’m a terrible cook and asking husband James to cook.

“Normality is a strange thing when you've been away for five months. When I put away my wash bag, that’s a big occasion."

If Yarnold does hang up her sled, PyeongChang bronze medallist Deas could be the one to carry on Britain's skeleton legacy although she will be 33 by the time of Beijing 2022.

Only 1924 figure skating bronze medallist Ethel Muckelt and John Crammond, winner of skeleton bronze four years later, have won individual Olympic medals at an older age.

For now, Deas' main priority was planning her summer wedding, where Yarnold will be bridesmaid.

“I feel very motivated to carry on,” she said. “I’ll have a break but it's been a very long journey up to this point and I've worked hard for a long time.” 

Catch up on what happened overnight in PyeongChang in our review of the action so far.

Sportsbeat 2018