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Skeleton sliders' silver success

Williams delighted with skeleton silver

By David Passmore
at Lake Placid in New York

The shrieks of delight said it all as a beaming Amy Williams celebrated her best ever skeleton World Championship finish.

Her silver medal place was confirmed as driving wind and rain swept the track here in Lake Placid.

It was a highly popular result for the 26-year-old from Bath as friends and fellow competitors lined up to congratulate her.

It had been an eventful week and at times she was down about her chances as she struggled to get over an infection.

But come the final day of the event she said to herself "heck, just enjoy it!" and she did.

Her penultimate run was good and left her in fourth place - 0.07 seconds outside the medal positions.

And being relaxed seemed to be the key. She chatted away in the finish area as if it was just a training day, before going back up to the start for her crucial final run.

She listened to some chilled-out music as she warmed up and then produced the best time of the final round to force her way into second place.

And if she had a broad smile on her face so too did performance director Andi Schmid as months and years of planning produced success at such a crucial stage with less than 12 months to go before the Olympics in Vancouver.

If Williams' medal was a nice surprise, Adam Pengilly's silver in the men's competition was a huge shock.

Pengilly revelled in his best ever result - a silver medal
Pengilly revelled in his best ever result - a silver medal

Pengilly from Taunton produced a spectacular run to go into first place after the second run - only for competition to be suspended.

Officials deliberated and decided that a slowing track was unfair to the later competitors and scrapped the second run.

This reduced the men's event to just three runs and left Pengilly more than a little upset - and in 15th position.

But he put the disappointment behind him to secure the fastest final round run and finished second overall, his best ever result.

He said: "The final run was so sweet, it was close to a perfect. There have been some highs and lows this season, but it's great to make it on to the podium at the World Championships."

They have to cope with some pretty extreme weather in this sport.

Cold obviously, and when it's -15C, as it was on the final practice day, you really have to wonder about the wisdom of wearing little more than a body stocking.

But then in the space of 48 hours the temperature had rocketed to 10C, the wind picked up to 50mph and rain - yes rain - stung your face.

The GB team is like a travelling family. Here in their hotel they have a team room where they all eat and spend many a happy hour fine tuning their sleds.

Alignment is everything and a millimetre error can make all the difference.

It's a growing science and while they may refer enviously to the team of mechanics Formula One have, many greatly enjoy the work.

Then there are the "Bromleys". Shelley Rudman the European Champion and her partner, last year's World Champion Kristan Bromley, stay in an apartment with their 16-month-old daughter Ella.

By day they are world class athletes - while Bromley's parents perform child care duties - by night they are devoted parents.

Rudman's year ended with a disappointing finish here - but it was her first full season back and says finishing second in the World Cup standings and winning the European title was better than she could have hoped for.

Now all eyes turn to Vancouver and the Olympics in February 2010.

And the achievements of Amy Williams and Adam Pengilly have given the whole team a lift.

Although coach Mickey Gruenberger might be feeling the cold.

He bet Williams he would get a mohican hair cut if she won a medal. The appointment at the town's only hair salon is booked!

They can now enjoy their end of season party and leave for a well deserved break - all of three weeks before the relentless training programme starts all over again.

see also
Pengilly adds to skeleton medals
01 Mar 09 |  Winter Sports
Williams secures skeleton silver
27 Feb 09 |  Winter Sports
Williams describes Lake Placid course
25 Feb 09 |  Winter Sports

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