"All in all we’ve been lucky; all our thoughts and ideas have worked out. I can steer and shoot superbly. We've managed to implement everything we wanted to achieve.”
Despite the benefit of motorsport technology in her new ski sled, Andrea Eskau needs practice and dedication to stay on the right track for another gold medal challenge at the Paralympic Games in PyeongChang and Tokyo.
Andrea, who suffered life-changing spinal injuries in a 1998 cycling accident, recently won two gold medals at the Para Nordic Ski World Cup in Canmore, Canada and this week her PyeongChang preparations step up a gear with her home round of the German Cup competition, in Oberried.
To get ready for this important milestone, Andrea has shown typical commitment to her training at the ski hall in Oberhof in central Germany. In one intensive three-week period, she completed a gruelling total of 1,000km practice with her new ski sled, developed by TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH (TMG).
That test highlighted several advantages with the motorsport-inspired ski sled; some expected and some not. With a 30 per cent weight reduction compared to her previous ski sled, an improvement in performance was already anticipated and the improved ergonomics were always intended to make the shooting section of the biathlon easier.
But one improvement was not planned, as Andrea explains.
“The shooting discipline for the biathlon is ideally from a prone position but that's impossible with the sleds, therefore we've designed a component which helps me lie in a more elevated position with more rotation in my torso so I have both arms on the ground when shooting, that works really well now.
“My disadvantage previously was that I lost a lot of time on downhill runs because I was cautious and took them at a lower speed. But especially in the first test I didn't lose anything on the downhill, which is an enormous advantage of course. And it's very, very decisive for our results in races.
“So all in all we’ve been lucky; all our thoughts and ideas have worked out. I can steer and shoot superbly. We've managed to implement everything we wanted to achieve.”
The Paralympic Winter Games take place in PyeongChang, South Korea from 9-18 March. Tickets can be purchased here.