The British Olympic Association has today selected the four skeleton athletes who will represent Team GB at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
Laura Deas, Dom Parsons, Jerry Rice and Lizzy Yarnold will compete in South Korea as Team GB looks to continue its proud record of recent success in the sport.
Yarnold is aiming to become the first British Winter Olympian to retain her title, with her success in Sochi four years ago following on from gold for Amy Williams in 2010, silver for Shelley Rudman in 2006 and bronze for Alex Coomber in 2002.
Yarnold’s winning margin of 0.97 seconds in Sochi was the largest in Olympic history as she registered two track records and the fastest down time in each of the four runs.
She won every major accolade in the sport in just 407 days across 2014 and 2015, with an overall World Cup season win, a European Championship title and a World Championship crown completing a remarkable 14 month stint for the former heptathlete.
The 29-year-old took a season away from the ice in 2015/16 but returned to the circuit last season, winning a silver World Cup medal in Lake Placid and a bronze at the 2017 World Championships in Konigssee in February.
The current World Cup campaign began with another bronze in the opening race in Placid in November and concluded with a fourth-place finish in Konigssee last Friday as she placed ninth in the overall World Cup rankings.
Deas, who started skeleton back in 2009 through the UK Sport talent programme, Girls4Gold, will be making her first appearance at the Olympic Winter Games having represented Great Britain at all three World Championships since Sochi. She was seventh in the 2015 World Championships, 11th in 2016 and 10th in 2017.
The 29-year-old ended this season seventh in the overall World Cup rankings, having been sixth in 2016/17, seventh in 2015/16 and fifth in 2014/15.
A former professional eventer, who had captained Wales in international competitions, Deas won her maiden World Cup race in Altenberg in November 2015 and added a bronze medal in Placid the following January.
She was fifth in the first two races of this season and was only outside of the top 12 in one of the eight World Cup races.
Like Yarnold, Parsons will be competing at his second Games having placed 10th in Sochi.
The 30-year-old was eighth at the most recent World Championships in February 2017 and was inside the top 10 in five of that season’s World Cup races.
His best result in the current season came just over a week ago when he finished joint fourth in St. Moritz in the penultimate World Cup race of the campaign.
A former 400m runner who made his GB Skeleton debut in January 2008 and narrowly missed out on a Junior World Championship medal two years later, Parsons won World Cup bronze in Calgary in 2013. He has twice been in the top five in the end-of-season world standings.
A mechanical engineering student, Parsons is partway through a PHD at the University of Bath.
Jerry Rice is set for his first Olympic appearance having only made his GB debut in early 2013.
The 27-year-old made his first World Cup appearance in the final race of the 2015/16 season when he finished 15th in Konigssee and his first taste of a global championships came at the same track in February 2017, when he placed 19th in the World Championships.
Having been crowned the 2016/17 Intercontinental Cup Champion Rice competed in seven of the eight World Cup races this season. His best result to date is an 11th place finish in St. Moritz earlier this month and he concluded the World Cup campaign with 14th spot in Konigssee on Friday.
A former semi-professional rugby league and union player who played full back in both codes for Hemel Stags and Amersham & Chiltern, Rice spent time playing Sevens in the summer but developed a love of winter sports during two seasons sliding the world-famous Cresta run in St Moritz.
Laura Deas said: “I’m very proud that I’m going to be representing my country at an Olympics. I’ve been in the sport for nine years now and this has always been my goal. It’s been on the horizon for a very long time so to actually be here is very cool and a very big honour.
“I want to do my country proud and do my family proud. I’m going to PyeongChang with the intention of winning a medal. That’s been the aim through my whole career and that won’t change now that I’m here.
“I know that the people that I’m racing against at the Games are the same people I race against week in, week out on the World Cup circuit. I’ve beaten all of them at different times and I know that, if I put in my best performance, I can be on the podium.
Lizzy Yarnold said: “The second Winter Olympics is still totally different to Sochi. Being part of this kitting out process and seeing all the hard work from not only my own team, but the whole of Team GB, is really exciting.
“To know that I won’t just be competing for myself and my country – it means so much more to be part of the whole team and seeing other athletes here today has been really exciting.
“I know that if I hadn’t taken a break I wouldn’t be here today. The big goal was to always go to another Olympic Games, to go to PyeongChang and I intend to defend my title.
“My season has certainly been up and down but I think this year has certainly taught me that sport is hard and tough and takes a tremendous amount of work and I have a very patient and understanding team around me and I really grateful for that. I think peaking at the right time makes more sense now than ever.”
Jerry Rice said: “It’s an awesome feeling. It’s a dream come true. It’s something that little seven-year-old Jerry dreamt of. I always imagined myself representing GB when I was younger, although that wasn’t in the Winter Olympics.
“It’s massively exciting to be going to my first Games. When I started skeleton, I knew I wanted to be where I am now, but I made it hard for myself along the way. I knew it was within my capabilities to be in this position, though, and it feels amazing to have been selected.
“I want to prove that I was the right man to pick. Getting to the Games is great but I want to be in the top 10 when I’m there. I know that’s a tough ask as there are so many very good sliders around but I know it’s possible. If I turn up with my best and produce four consistent runs, that’s within reach.”
Dom Parsons said: “I’m very proud to be going to my second Olympics. It’s different second time around but there’s still a huge amount of excitement attached to it.
“When I was doing athletics, my dream was to represent my country, and even that was a long way off back then. To be selected for a second Olympics is a huge change from where I was.
“Finishing fourth in Moritz just over a week ago was a big boost. I was only a hundredth of a second off winning a medal there. Even though the results in the two races either side of that weren’t so good, I’ve felt as though I’m pulling it together finally this season. I had speed down the track in all three of those venues. Two corners threw a spanner in the works in Altenberg and Konigssee but I had the pace. I know that I’m coming into form now.
“I want to come back with a medal but I know that the best way to do that is to focus on what I need to do to rather than on what I want to achieve. I’ll be making sure I get all the little bits right, getting the track nailed and getting my equipment dialled in.”
Andi Schmid, Team Leader for Skeleton, said: "It’s a great moment for the athletes to be selected for the Games and it’s also a great moment for the support staff, many of whom haven’t been to an Olympic Games before. The whole team has worked incredibly hard over the cycle and this is the moment that really counts. We have a strong team of athletes and everyone is very focussed to do well at the Games.
"Lizzy did very well in the last two races. She had highs and lows during the season but she knows how to peak when it counts.
"Laura was very strong on various different tracks throughout the season and she is in great shape to do well in PyeongChang.
"Dominic performed very well in St Moritz at that gave him confidence and his last run in Konigssee was very strong, too.
"For Jerry, this is a new experience. He has pushed very hard over the last few years and he is in good spirits for his first Games."