Three athletes were announced today for the Australian skeleton and luge team for the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Jackie Narracott, Nick Timmings and Alex Ferlazzo will all don the green and gold come February.
Townsville local Ferlazzo will make history as the first Australian Luge athlete to compete at three Olympics. In Skeleton, fellow Queenslander 31-year-old Narracott will compete at her second Games, with West Australian Nick Timmings to make his Olympic debut after more than a decade in the Australian Skeleton program.
The sliders will compete at the Yanqing Sliding Centre just outside Beijing, which includes a world-first 360 degree turn and see athletes reach top speeds of up to 140 km/h.
Narracott’s selection comes off the best season of her career, highlighted by a first ever Australian World Cup victory in Skeleton last week in St Moritz, Switzerland, while Timmings and Ferlazzo both enjoyed successful World Cup seasons after a disrupted 2020/2021 season.
Ferlazzo already has Australia’s best ever finish in men’s luge with his 28th in Pyeongchang, and says his experience has him primed to go even better in Beijing.
“This is such a special moment,” Ferlazzo said. “I’m stoked first of all to make the Olympic team again to be able to represent Australia.
“I feel more ready than ever, Luge is such an experience-based sport and you know, having two Olympics under my belt, I’m finding it a lot easier to handle the pressure of racing and just enjoy every moment.
“With travel restrictions in 2020, I was at home and missed the whole season. It was difficult to begin with, I just committed to doing everything I could back home. I spent a lot of time working on mental health, worked out some niggling injuries, so going into this season, I’ve been feeling mentally fresh, and the body is feeling better than better than it ever has before.”
Narracott said her recent World Cup results have given her the perfect lead in to Beijing.
“Becoming a two-time skeleton Olympian is fantastic, it’s unreal,” Narracott said.
“Winning St Moritz last weekend was an absolute dream come true. I managed to finally put all the lessons I’ve been learning over the past 10 years into two great runs in the same race.
“To cross the finish line and then see the number one [next to my name] was just pure excitement. I’ve always dreamed and hoped that I would be the first Aussie to win a skeleton World Cup, but to actually do it is really cool. It’s given me concrete proof that I can compete and win this level. I’ve always believed that it was in me – now I know.
“We get to race faster than we can legally drive cars. On a good run it just feels like you’re flying, it’s so fun and free and fast. I can’t wait to do it again in Beijing.”
The skeleton racers have family connections in winter sport, with Jackie’s uncle Paul Narracott the first Australian to compete at both a Summer and Winter Games, in Athletics at Los Angeles 1984 and Bobsleigh at Albertville 1992, while Nick Timming’s twin brother Dean competes for Australia alongside him on the international circuit.
Olympic debutant Timmings said today’s selection is even sweeter given the challenges each athlete has faced over this quad.
“It’s a dream come true to go to my first Olympics, I’m over the moon,” Timmings said. “I can’t wait to get out there and see what we can do in Beijing.”
“Every Olympic athlete would have had a four-year plan that was completely thrown out the window after the year two. For me, last year was a big struggle to get away and compete. But I bit the bullet, and took a risk to get away to better myself and improve so I could get in that position this year where I could really attack that qualifying spot.
“The speed and the adrenaline of skeleton is like nothing else. I got to 141 km/h in on the Whistler track this year, when you’re having a good run, you can feel time slowing down, like the corners are coming at you slower. You literally feel like you’re flying.”
The Luge competition will run from 5-10 February and Skeleton 10-12 February at the Yanqing Sliding Centre.