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Warm weather snow problem for Brisbane bobsleigh team

Cool runnings ... Astrid Loch-Wilkinson, right, and Cecilia McIntosh start their run during a women's bobsleigh heat at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Photo: Issei KatoWho says you need snow for winter sports?

Sunny Brisbane is home to the Australian women’s bobsleigh team – and it is on the hunt for new recruits.

After a disappointing 19th place at this year’s Winter Olympics in Vancouver, pilot Astrid Loch-Wilkinson realised it was time for fresh blood.

And she believes the sport’s mix of “athleticism, adrenaline and skill” attracted a number of prospective competitors at a recent open day in Brisbane.

“I have seven or eight girls in Brisbane training for a spot on the team, ” said Loch-Wilkinson.

A former track athlete, Loch-Wilkinson was recruited to the cause in 2003.

However, she found it difficult to compete frequently due to a lack of support and funding for the expensive equipment.

Earlier this year, a timely sponsorship deal with Avante IT allowed the team to purchase improved gear.

“It’s very expensive and makes a huge difference – a whole second even, which is a big thing in the race,” Loch-Wilkinson said.

The bobsleighers have their sights set on the next Winter Olympics in 2014, as well as a top 10 world ranking.

Team hopeful Gemma Ryde, who originally hails from Scotland agrees the sport is somewhat ironic in a warm country like Australia.

“We have wheels instead of runners, training in the full sun and we have to put sunscreen on,” she said.

“Everyone is joking about [the film] Cool Runnings and they find it hilarious.”

Despite the lack of snow and ice the athletes are in no way disadvantaged.

“We do the same training as they do in cold countries like in North America,” Ryde said.

“Sprint training, weights, pushing the sled … and practicing jumping into the sled”.

A former track sprinter, Ryde was approached to try out for the team while at the gym, and has since then had a change of sporting ambitions.

“It’s a long way off but I hope to go to the Winter Olympics with Astrid’s team in 2014.”

Loch-Wilkinson will take her team to Sydney for the next stage of tryouts on August 29.

This article is also available on Brisbane Times at http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/sport/warm-weather-snow-problem-for-brisbane-bobsleigh-team-20100818-12ezy.html#ixzz1jxzsvzNG

and http://aussieicemaidens.com.au/?p=83

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