Werner in the driver’s seat

Ashleigh Werner.

ASHLEIGH Werner has chosen to put herself in the driver’s seat – literally – when it comes to dealing with the disappointment of her Australian women’s two-person bobsleigh team missing out on the chance to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

The 24-year-old Sydneysider was the leading brakeman (rear runner) in the squad of three, which despite coming fifth overall in the Junior (U25) Europa Cup series and 11th in the Junior World Championships, was overlooked for nomination for the Games by Sliding Sports Australia after failing to meet predetermined standards.

The team, led by pilot Bree Walker, has only been training and competing for two seasons in a sport often referred to as “Formula 1 on ice”, where top speeds of more than 140km/h are often reached.

They are now focused on improving, and securing a spot for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
With that in mind, Werner took the initiative to travel to America’s Lake Placid bobsleigh course on March 19 to start a three-week intensive piloting course.

She told The AJN on Friday it’s been thrilling to learn how to steer, and to actually see oncoming bends instead of keeping her head down in the back after the sprint start.

And with more skills development, and further efforts to secure scarce sponsorship opportunities, she believes Australia will be in a position to send two women’s bobsleigh teams to the next Winter Games.

“I think I have a real shot at piloting, and I’m loving it more than I thought I would,” Werner said.

“It’s not going to be easy, but I have what it takes in terms of work ethic and motivation.

“One thing I’ve learnt here already is that as you feel complacent about one corner, you are guaranteed to mess it up on the next run!

“So you have to take every bit of feedback and apply that, keep a level head and be consistent – and I’m working on that.

“There’s nothing you can do to change that curve that’s behind you.”

That’s a lesson Werner said she plans to use off the track too.

“I’m readjusting when things don’t go 100 per cent right.

“It’s been a really cathartic experience being here [for pilot training] and it’s really motivating me with a big four years ahead.”