Jan Farrell: Lancaster ski star bidding to be fastest in history

Jan Farrell.
Jan Farrell.
  • Madrid-based speed ski star still considers Lancaster home
  • Jan Farrell targets Guinness World Records
  • World Cup champion wants to spread the word about his sport

Jan Farrell is not your typical Lancaster sportsman.

Born to a Czech mother and English father in the city the speed ski star has spent most of his life in Madrid.

But the SDH World Cup winner in 2014 still considers his place of birth home despite being away for most of his 31 years.

“I’ve got quite a few family friends there,” said Farrell, who took up skiing in the Lake District aged just two and left for Spain at five.

“I still consider it home and try to come back as often as I can because it’s a great place.

“I last came back in 2010 or 2011 but I’ve promised my girlfriend we’ll visit and got up to the Lake District or Scotland.

“I could have raced for the Czech Republic or Spain but I chose Britain.

“My accent might be a bit strange but I’m from Lancaster!”

If Farrell, also an entrepreneur who runs “half a dozen” companies, isn’t your every day sportsman then speed ski certainly isn’t an every day event.

The fastest non-motorised sport in the world, competitors are measured over a straight line descent of around a kilometre with speeds reaching an eye-watering 200kph or 125mph.

“There’s a big technical side to it because it’s about aerodynamics,” says Farrell, who raced in Winter Olympic favourite ski cross until 2011.

“You ski in a straight line down a very steep slope which is usually around a kilometre in length.

“You go down half a vertical metre and get up to speeds of 200kmh or 120mph.

“It seems like an adrenaline rush but it’s very intense and is over in about 15 or 20 seconds.

I could have raced for the Czech Republic or Spain but I chose Britain

“There’s so much going on at the same time. I’m concentrating so much that I don’t think about the adrenaline.”

It’s certainly high-tech.

Farrell’s latex race suit is specially made in France to ensure it has no creases with his helmet hand-made in Switzerland.

The Lancaster man says he’s never crashed, but just in case, the helmet has an inside shell that would break on impact with the outer shell acting as a spoiler, similar to on a racing car.

It’s all done with one thing in mind, going as fast as possible, with Farrell having his eye on several Guinness speed records.

“My intention is to try and break (Italian speed skier) Simone Origone’s 252kph record which would be the culmination of my career,” he says.

Jan Farrell as a baby.

Jan Farrell as a baby.

“It’s ambitious but that’s what I’m aiming for and that’s what I’m going to look to do.

“We’re in the sport to go fast so that’s my aim.

“In the mean time while I’m learning how to go fast I’m trying other records.

“I organised (bike racer) Guy Martin’s sled record for Channel 4 and really enjoyed it so next I’m looking at being the fastest man to go down a sand dune on skis.”

Not all Farrell’s goal as personal however.

The ski star takes his role as an ambassador for his sport seriously, having attended a demonstration event in Turkey at the weekend in a bid to find new venues and markets for speed ski.

“For me the most important part of my athletic career is the sports development part,” he said.

“It’s necessary for our sport to bring it to new athletes and I’m the last new British speed skier.

“It’s a fantastic sport.

“Alpine racers usually quit at 17 or 18 when they’ve got to make decisions in life and maybe head to University because there isn’t much money in it.

“It’s a very good way out for alpine skiers because it’s a sport that allows for other things. I’d like to take this opportunity to say to alpine skiers who want to try it out that they can come along and train.

“I’d be happy to help.”

Read all about Jan’s 2015 World Cup hopes HERE