He maybe on a shoestring budget but Rotorua skeleton racer Ben Sandford is proving he can match it with the big guns.

The New Zealander has backed up his silver medal in the Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup in St Moritz, Switzerland, last month with a bronze in this month's world championships at Lake Placid, New York.

He was third behind Latvia's Martins Dukurs, who finished the four heats at Mount Van Hoevenberg in 3 minutes 37.09 seconds and Germany's Frank Rommel. Sandford finished his four heats in a time of 3 minutes 39.50 seconds.

It is Sandford's best finish at a world champs and he is only the second athlete from the Southern Hemisphere to win a medal in skeleton, luge or bobsled at the Winter Olympic or world championship level.


Sandford told The Daily Post yesterday he was rapt with the result.

"I'm over the moon. To finally get on the podium at a world champs is just fantastic, its been a long time coming and to finally get there is just awesome. I've had so much support and help from people over the years it's just great to be able to repay that faith a little bit."

His Kiwi teammate Katharine Eustace, from Wanaka, also competing in the women's division, finished 13th behind American Katie Uhlaender, Canadian Mellisa Hollingsworth and Great Britain's Elizabeth Yarnold.

Sandford said it was a great result considering he competed on a tight budget compared with teams who had support staff galore and multi-million dollar budgets.

"I actually think people quite like seeing me do well, because they've seen how long I've been in the sport and how hard I've worked and that it hasn't been easy," Sandford said.

"But that despite not having everything I'm still able to get good results. However, I'm sure there are a few who would rather be beating me than getting beaten."

Sandford, who competed at the 2006 Torino Olympics and the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada (where he finished 10th and 11th respectively) has skeleton success in the blood - his uncle Bruce was the 1992 world champion.

After completing university, Sandford packed his bags and headed to Europe in 2002 to follow in his uncle's tracks and has been competing ever since.

With the season at an end Sandford said he was looking forward to a break.

"I'll take a month off and then get back into training, and return to NZ sometime soon. I need to get out of the winter."

Results from men's division at the world championships, Lake Placid, New York: Martins Dukurs 3:3.09, 1; Frank Rommel 3:39.17, 2; Ben Sandford 3:39.50, 3; Sergei Chudinov 3:39.65, 4; Tomass Dukurs 3:39.75, 5.