Britain’s Olympic skeleton bronze medallist Laura Deas accepts the start of her season has not gone to plan - but believes she can peak for Beijing 2022.
The 33-year-old finished on the podium in Pyeongchang with one of her best friends, Lizzy Yarnold, who delivered historic back-to-back titles by winning gold in South Korea. Since those Games, Yarnold has retired, leaving Deas as the big name in the skeleton squad.
“People will recognise me, they'll know my name from last time round. There's probably a bit of expectation that wasn't there before,” Deas told Eurosport.
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“Going into Pyeongchang, I was definitely the underdog and I didn't have a huge amount of pressure on my shoulders other than what I put on myself.
“I don't think I am feeling a massive amount of pressure other than what I want from myself in terms of being able to go to Beijing and better what I've done before.
“That's why I'm still here four years on, because I think I can go one or two better. I use that as motivation rather than pressure.”
Deas admits the first World Cup races of the season have not gone completely to plan - she has finished 20th at two of them, and 21st in the other, but she says the set-up is very different to traditional winter sport countries - and the focus is all about the Olympics and building momentum.
The mould appears to be very similar to Britain’s track cycling team, which (until Tokyo) traditionally peaked at the Olympics, and Deas agrees.
“I think there's lots of different bits that go into the complete performance when it comes to our sport," she said.
“You don't necessarily have to have all those firing on all cylinders, all the time to know that when the time comes, you will be able to put it together. That's important to remember.
Compared to some of the other nations that we compete against, as GB, we're looking to peak once every four years, whereas other nations that we're competing against in the World Cups might be peaking week in, week out.
“Whenever you go to an Olympic Games, it's a neutral track as well. Obviously, the host nation has an advantage, but for everybody else, it's a neutral track, nobody has that vast experience that or has had a go at it hundreds or thousands of times.”
The neutral track element appears to be a thought process which is shared throughout the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association. Olympic bobsleigh bronze medallist Joel Fearon recently told Eurosport that British athletes turn being the ‘away’ team into an advantage, rather than a massive hindrance.
“Everywhere we go, it's not home, it's always someone else's backyard and we're used to that,” said Deas.
“We've done really well as a nation to not let that be a disadvantage. When you come into the sport, as a Brit, you immediately have to get comfortable with picking things up quickly.
“You might have six or eight runs before a race to learn a track, and then you've got to go and perform. We get very good at doing that throughout the season, whereas potentially for some of the nations, if you're used to doing the bulk of your runs in one place, you've done all of your development on one type of track.
“Every track has a different personality, the corners are different, the speeds are different. So I definitely think it's an advantage to not have a preference and to be able to go anywhere and perform.”
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