One final push for Alan as GB go for glory in Canada
By Stuart Laundy - Senior Reporter
MONTHS of hard work, training and competition across two continents come to a head for dale slider Alan Toward this weekend at the bobsleigh and skeleton world championships.
And while the dream is to achieve a place on the podium, the bigger prize could a performance which is good enough to secure funding through to the next Winter Olympics.
The 26-year-old, from Middleton-in-Teesdale, is part of the GB team that will field two sleds in the four-man event at the championships, which are being held in Whistler, Canada.
The four-man bob competition is the final event of the world championships and will be staged in the early hours of Saturday and Sunday mornings, March 9 and 10, UK time.
After a whirlwind few months, Alan is hoping to take is place in the GB1 sled, piloted by Olympic veteran Brad Hall.
The crew competed in the North American Cup before Christmas and then headed to Europe for the World Cup season.
They decided to sit out the final two rounds of the World Cup to concentrate all their efforts preparing for the biggest – and final – event of the season, training in Calgray before moving on to Whistler.
Alan said: “We had a successful training camp in Calgary. We’ve finished the final block of strength training and now we’re just peaking for the races.
“Calgary has an excellent facility with an indoor ice house, so we managed to get plenty of practice on our start.
“There are four breakmen with three places in the sled (plus pilot Brad Hall), so we’ve been trying different combinations to ensure the start is the best it can be.
“Our hope for the world championships is a medal, but we have to get a good result for UK Sport to consider supporting the programme to the next Olympic Games.”
Medal success will be no mean feat for the British crews.
They will be up against a formidable German crew led by reigning Olympic champion Francesco Friedrich which has just been crowned World Cup champions having won five of the eight races this season.
The Germans finished ahead of the Latvian foursome piloted by Oskars Kibermanis.
However, Alan said the Canadians, headed by Justin Cripps, would also be a threat on their home ice and cheered on by partisan support.
“The favourites are the home nation as they’re really strong and they’ve had the most runs on the track,” he said.
“But the German teams will definitely make it a competition, hopefully with us in the mix too as Brad drove well last time we were here.
“We’ve also got GB2 with (pilot) Lamin Deen racing. He’s very confident here as he still holds the speed and track record here for the four-man.
“Anything can happen on a race day so it’s hard to call it,” added Alan.
l Race times are 1am and anyone wishing to follow Alan’s fortunes live can do so via the live stream on the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton website (ibsf.org) and YouTube channel.