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Features Thursday, 7 February, 2002, 12:02 GMT
Team GB's training boost
Glynn Pedersen will practice his ski jumps in Calgary
The ski jump is just one of the facilities on offer
By BBC Sport Online's Anna Thompson in Calgary

Britain's athletes have enjoyed their best preparation for a Winter Olympics.

They have been fine-tuning their physical and mental capabilities for Salt Lake City in Calgary, Canada.

It is the first time a holding camp has been used in the Winter Games.

It follows the success of the British team in the Sydney Olympics where the Gold Coast base was deemed a real asset.

The British Olympic Association has entered into a five-year agreement with the Canadian Olympic Development Agency (Coda).

There is nothing like training on ice

Bobsledder Marcus Adam

It means the British athletes gain home status and can use the excellent facilities in Calgary, which hosted the 1988 Olympics.

They have also become acclimatised to the high altitude, and Salt Lake City is in the same time zone as well.

British short-track speed skater Nicky Gooch, who won a bronze medal in Lillehammer in 1994, is attending his fourth Winter Games.

Gooch and his team-mates have been using the Olympic Oval at the city's university - which boasts a long track and two short tracks.

He said: "The quality of the facilities here in Calgary is amazing. The amount of care they take over ice preparation is amazing.

"I'm sure it will boost the athletes.

Nicky Gooch is amazed at the Calgary facilities
Nicky Gooch is amazed at the Calgary speed skating facilities

"It is a shame that we don't have similar facilities in Britain. The reason we don't have any long-track skaters is simple. There isn't a long track in Britain."

Marcus Adam, who is a brakeman in the men's bobsleigh team, was impressed with the ice house - an indoor building which has mini tracks to help improve start times for bobsleigh, skeleton and luge.

Calgary also has World Cup standard bobsleigh, skeleton and luge tracks.

In Britain the bobsleigh squads practice their starts at a new facility in Bath - but the track is not iced.

Adam said: "There is nothing like training on ice and it has been invaluable for us to be able to use the ice house and the proper bobsleigh run in Calgary."

In return for Calgary, the BOA has given Coda 1,000 bed places at its training camp in Lofer, Austria.

Team GB are hoping the success in Sydney will rub off on the Salt Lake City athletes, with a clutch of medals.

Simon Clegg, chef de mission of Team GB, said: "The holding camp for the 2000 Olympics was successful in establishing a Team GB ethos.

"We believe Calgary will give our athletes a competitive edge on the other countries they have never had before."

BBC Sport Online's Anna Thompson

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