Flying head first to Sochi: John Farrow's Blog1 May 2013
BLOG: My name is John Farrow and for the past 4 years I have been training and competing for Australia in the winter sport of skeleton. In less than 10 months the Olympic skeleton event will be held in Sochi, Russia. Australia has been putting in some hard work in the winter sports and I am sure we will be sending our strongest team ever to the other side of the world to a small Russian town to bring back medals. It’s my plan to show you my personal and the team’s preparation on our journey to Sochi over the next 10 months in order to be our best and bring back gold to Australia.
Before I start that I will begin with the two most common questions I am asked about my sport:
- What sport is Skeleton?
- How do you get into that coming from Australia?
Question one is usually answered by asking if people know the sport of bobsled. Usually they will (possibly due to the movie Cool Runnings), and I can then explain that we race down the bobsled track head first on our own sled by ourselves. To which most people will reply "ohhh yeah luge?" No, skeleton! Luge is feet first. In skeleton we sprint at the start next to our sleds pushing them down the track and we then dive head first on to them and navigate the track. At this point most people will remember seeing it at the Olympics and think we are insane or they don't understand it. For everyone else above is a picture of what our start looks like.
Question two I think most of our winter athletes get asked quite often with all of us having a unique story, My personally starts seeing the Olympics in 2002 when skeleton was put in the Olympic program full-time. Jim Shea of the USA won that event and the sport was forever imprinted in my mind. Being from Australia I palmed it off as something Canadians, Europeans and Americans do, and kept at my sport of downhill mountain biking.
The 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino came along and I got to see Australian Shaun Boyle represent Australia at the Olympic Games. This gave me some hope, but it wasn't until I was in Whistler with my bike team in the summer of 2008 that I came across a Canadian recruiter who gave me some information on how to get started in skeleton. Sidelined from competition in downhill mountain bike with an injury at the time, and seeing the Olympic track being built in Whistler, it was there that I decided I will switch sports and chase Olympic medals. Three months later I was in Calgary doing skeleton.
Now I’m back in Australia for 5 months before we can compete again as skeleton tracks are only open in the Northern hemisphere. I will show you how we train to be fast on ice, the preparation, work and combined team effort to have the edge when racing starts again. For now I train with the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia (OWIA) strength and conditioning coach John Marsden in the mornings at the NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) in Homebush. To be lightening fast at the skeleton start we start by being fast at the athletics track. For sprints I train at rotary oval in Chatswood with sprints coach Ron Bendall (pictured) and our group from UTS Norths Athletics Club.
Join me on the road to Sochi!