Skeleton racer Katharine Eustace trains on a wheeled sled
at the High Performance Sport New Zealand facility in
Wanaka. Photo by Catherine Pattison.
After narrowly missing Winter Olympics qualification four
years ago, Wanaka skeleton racer Katharine Eustace is
channelling all her energy into making it to the starting
blocks at Sochi.
Preparation, training and fundraising will occupy most of her
time while she is back home for the next few months.
''It's not all just about sliding,'' she said.
A recent two-week training trip to Calgary, Canada, to use an
indoor ice facility was part of her annual build-up to racing
in the northern hemisphere.
''It has a 100m-long track that replicates the push start so
I can practise the technical aspects of that.''
At $C250 ($NZ302) an hour to rent the space, Eustace worked
to a predetermined plan, making sure she covered each
technical aspect of the 20m-30m sprint and dive on to her
Video footage was uploaded to Winter Performance Programme
sport science director John Turnbull and High Performance
Sport New Zealand physiologist Angus Ross back in New
Zealand. Eustace would then discuss with them online how to
correct her body angles to create more speed.
Now in her seventh season skeleton racing, Eustace (38) has
boosted that power output.
''I am running consistently faster than I have done before.
''That's where you generate your speed [for the sliding
section], so it's a really important part of the race.''
Working part-time as a physiotherapist, she fits in a 16 to
20-hour a week training programme, which is primarily
gym-based and includes weightlifting, sprints and plyometrics
(jumping and bounding).
In the back of her mind is the knowledge that she was only
one spot away from qualifying for the 2010 Vancouver
''I thought, I achieved this with little experience, so I do
have the potential to do it next time [Sochi, February
Earlier this year, Eustace was buoyed by a career best and
the highest result by a New Zealand skeleton racing female -
finishing 10th at the world championships in Switzerland.
A new $7000 steel and fibreglass sled she is fundraising for
will, hopefully, give her the edge on swift sliding and she
has reached about $5000 on an online crowd-funding campaign,
which closes in two weeks.
''If I want to give it my all and know I am on the best
equipment, I needed a change just to see,'' she said of the
reason for upgrading her 5-year-old sled.
She will leave for pre-season training in October before
embarking on seven world cup races in North America and
''That's when we earn our spots for the Olympics.''
Rippon Vineyard is hosting a wine options fundraising night
for Eustace on Saturday, August 31 at 7pm.