Have you ever hurtled facedown on a sled on a frozen track at 127km p/h? Well this amazing athlete has, and does so frequently as he trains to compete in Skeleton events later this year. Wow! We find Elliot's sport so fascinating and so we asked him if he could share with us bit about his training.
What are you training for?
I am currently training for the upcoming International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation’s European Cup season which runs from mid October through until March.
I will be competing in a number of development programs and races throughout Europe starting in Igls, which is a track in Innsbruck, Austria and then moving through to Norway, Germany and Latvia. This season I will be sliding on a number of new tracks, which will present new challenges, so I am excited to see what the season has in store.
What does a training week look like for you?
At this stage I am two months out from the start of the season so I am still in an intense training cycle which includes a gym and sprint track session four times a week, encompassing, lifts and leg work in the gym, start progression, push and pull sled work on the track and finally throws and jumps. On the days that aren’t heavy I work in the gym trying to prevent injury and develop a strong core.
What has been your hardest training session to date?
The sport of Skeleton has so many different elements that need to come together on race day to be successful. When we are in season and sliding we are generally only able to slide the track twice a day. Each run takes roughly a minute, so over the training session we are really only getting 2 minutes worth of sliding practice in per training day.
This means that when we slide we need to have every aspect of the sport dialled, so we train for each element, this could include, physical preparation - sprinting at the start, mental preparation – visualising the track and specifically what steers need to be made throughout each corner to slide the fastest line, preparing our equipment – identifying the ice conditions and choosing the appropriate set of runners (the steel tubing that connects with the ice) for the conditions and polishing them to ensure they are smooth and will create the least amount of friction. These are just a few examples of what goes into a training session or race.
What I find the hardest is the mental preparation. Last season I would lay on my sled and visualise the track for up to an hour before I slid which was a new experience as I am someone that likes to learn from feeling.
Describe a standard weight training session, and a standard skeleton training session?
When I am in my off season a standard weight training session would focus on developing strength, power and explosion from my legs. I would work with my coach Dan Harris at Boutagy Fitness Institute through a series of squats, jumps, lifts and presses.
As for a standard Skeleton training session, I walk the track if possible, this is where you walk down the track on the ice, most people will take notes regarding the ice conditions, the corners and the steers that you will need to perform to find the fastest line down the course. I would then spend anywhere up to an hour before I slide visualising myself in each corner throughout the track. Once I am confident that I know the corners I will physically warm up. After this I will prepare my sled for the session, which involves increasing or decreasing the bow of the runners depending on the conditions.
I am generally sliding with a number of other athletes, so I will wait in the start house, which is like a changing room at the top of the track, until my name is called over the loud speaker. I will then take my sled to the start of the track, I have 30 seconds to get ready and push off. Once my run is completed I will make notes as to how the run felt and talk with my coach about specific corners that I can work on before my second training run.
How fast do you expect to go at your peak?
Each track will vary, at present my the fastest that I have slid on my sled is 127 kph. But at a track like Whistler for example some athletes can reach speeds of 145 kph +
What do you do to recover?
I always try to get my nutrition right, especially in the off season when I am lifting heavy weights and running at close to max efforts multiple times a week. To do this I lean heavily on protein to aid in my recovery process, I look forward to my ANPC Cocoa protein shake after each gym session it tastes that good, I use it as a kind of reward between sessions.
Tell us something about you that most people don't know?
Before starting Skeleton I raced as a junior elite triathlete (weird transition I know). In this time I won a World Championship in the Sprint distance and came runner up in the World Championship Olympic distance in Edmonton Canada.
We here at ANPC are really looking forward to watching Elliot's journey. Make sure you check out these awesome photos of Elliot doing his thing!