Penny Coomes & Nick Buckland inspired for World Championships

2014 Figure Skating World Championships

  • Venue: Saitama, Japan
  • Date: 26-30 March

British ice dancers Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland are taking lessons from cycling's "marginal gains" in a bid to win an Olympic medal in 2018.

Coomes and Buckland hit their target of 10th at last month's Sochi Winter Olympics and return to action at the World Championships in Japan this week.

Once the season concludes, the couple will use British Cycling's success as their inspiration for improvements.

"We're watching a lot of documentaries about cyclists," Coomes told BBC Sport.

What are 'marginal gains'?

Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland

The phrase "marginal gains" is closely associated with British Cycling performance director Sir Dave Brailsford.

Brailsford defined the concept in 2010 as "finding a 1% margin for improvement in everything you do".

He believed many small gains would add up to a much larger overall improvement. The application of this theory was considered an integral part of British track cyclists' success at Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

Coomes and Buckland hope to use the concept to improve their conditioning and recovery from major events and work on injury prevention, among other aspects of their training.

"The British performance director found all these marginal gains. They say you can gain 15% through doping, so he wanted to find the same gains legally.

"We've done well so far through sheer hard work," said the 24-year-old from Maidenhead. "But it's getting to the point where: is that enough now?"

Nottingham's Buckland, also 24, added: "When you get to the top 10 in the world, everybody works unbelievably hard. You can't rely on that any more, we've got to take our skating to the next level.

"Traditionally, people don't look at figure skating scientifically. We've got to improve as artists but also as sportsmen."

The duo, coached by Russian legend Evgeny Platov, could reach the top eight at the World Championships in Saitama, near Tokyo.

America's Sochi champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White have withdrawn, as have Canadian runners-up Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

"We're always striving for more and top eight would definitely be our goal," said Coomes.

Buckland, who recovered from heart surgery to compete in Sochi, said: "[Those teams] have been replaced by other strong teams, but eighth is very achievable."

The couple have never finished higher than 13th at a World Championships, but hope to win a medal at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics.

Are the Worlds an anti-climax?

Figure skating's World Championships are held within a month of the Olympics concluding.

"We've never been in this situation before," said Penny Coomes. "When we did the Olympics in Vancouver, we didn't get sent to the Worlds. This is new to us and it's very difficult.

"The Olympics is the most incredible thing. When it's over, it's this crazy anti-climax. To come down and build back up again is a challenge."

Nick Buckland said: "It's crazy to say you're hanging on for a less-important competition - and that is the World Championships."

They are among five British skaters at the World Championships, which begin on Wednesday.

Sixteen-year-old Amani Fancy and former French skater Christopher Boyadji, 23, make their pairs debut at this level. Stacey Kemp and David King, 19th in Sochi, are reserves.

Northern Ireland's Jenna McCorkell skates in what is expected to be her final event before retirement, aged 27, having finished 25th in Sochi. Britain will have no men's entrant.

Few of Sochi's Olympic champions will appear at the Worlds: men's gold medallist Yuzuru Hanyu skates on home ice, but Canadian silver medallist Patrick Chan is absent.

Russian women's Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova is also missing, as are pairs gold medallists Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov.