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Ice maiden Paula Walker set for bobsleigh World Cup glory
PAULA Walker begins her bobsleigh World Cup campaign today and she believes she has never been better prepared.
The 25-year-old from Blackburn has left nothing to chance in the build-up for what should be her first full campaign, starting on the Igls track in Austria.
Walker, the Great Britain number one driver, has had the perfect preparation – both in her new sled, christened Maximus – and her own personal appearance.
For fake lashes, lip tattoos and painted nails have been as much a part of the build-up as has her training camps and warm-up competitions.
“You have to look good for the TV cameras,” joked the former St Bede’s pupil. “I like wearing the lashes and painting my finger nails. It all adds a bit of glam to the track!
“But to be honest, mentally and physically I have never been better prepared. We have trained very hard and we have a fantastic team and we’re really looking forward to the season ahead.”
That perfect preparation was demonstrated when she won the America’s Cup event in Park City, Utah, last month – beating a number of Olympic medal winners in the process.
“We only went as a pre-season warm-up. The competition is usually for novices but the American and Canadian teams turned up and we thought ‘oh heck, we’ve got a race on now!’ “But it went superb for us and we won both races.”
Walker sprung to prominence when she finished 11th in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver last year then became world junior champion earlier this year – the first British woman to achieve the feat.
She has always approached the sport with a smile on her face – despite the personal tragedy of losing her father Paul to cancer which forced her to miss the second part of the last World Cup.
Walker knows there will be added pressure on her and her team-mates, brakeswoman Rebekah Wilson and Kelly Denyer, to deliver this year. A total of £2.4m has been invested in the women’s bobsleigh team in the lead-up to the next Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014.
“There is pressure but no more pressure than I put myself under,” added Walker, a corporal in the Royal Signals. “I have been given a top eight target for both the World Cup and the World Championships. Personally, I will be aiming for higher than that.”
Walker has a world ranking of 17th but that does not affect her true standings in the sport having missed a lot of the last World Cup.
“Finishing in the top three is probably a bit unrealistic at this stage,” she added. “But it would be great to get a podium finish in one of the events.”
Walker is aiming to compete in all eight races – the next is in Winterberg, Germany later this month – and also compete in the season-ending World Champion-ships in Lake Placid.
“I love what I do and I always try to enjoy myself. But when it comes to it, I always have my game face on.”
And that game face doesn’t just mean the fake lashes!
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