Preston Royal Navy veteran smashes 65-year-old Cresta Run World Record

A Preston-born Royal Navy veteran has smashed one of the longest-standing World Records in winter sport.

By Catherine Musgrove
Friday, 18th March 2022, 3:45 pm

Andrew Mills, who grew up in Fulwood and attended Broughton Primary School, recently became the fastest man to ever toboggan down the world-famous Cresta Run in St Moritz, Switzerland.

Travelling at speeds of up to 80mph, the 58-year-old former submariner's time of 28.61 seconds beat the 65-year-old record of 28.90 seconds set in 1956 by the Marquess de Portago, a Spanish aristocrat, and international playboy.Unfortunately, after holding up for decades, the title was passed on again only a few hours later when 20-year-old Swiss Olympian Aris Spillmann beat Andrew's time in a day of activity organised by the Committee of the St Moritz Tobogganing Club.

Andrew, a former Lieutenant Commander Royal, said: “When it was announced by the Secretary that I had broken the 65-year-old record, it was a truly special moment."To think that my personal best was also a World Record was a moment of huge emotion for me. Although my parents are dead, they had both seen me ride several times."

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Gracious in defeat to “charming young man” Aris, he added: “This means, ofcourse, I will have to train all summer to win back the honour for the Royal Navy and the United Kingdom.”Andrew's story

Andrew joined the Royal Navy (RN) in 1981 at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth after sitting his ALevels at QEGS, Blackburn and served for a full commission of just over 26 years.

When he retired, he joined the Royal Naval Reserve in Media Operations and has since completed tours across the world.

Andrew, who has represented the Royal Navy at football, cricket and tennis, said: "Riding the Cresta Run began for me in 1992. I first rode as a developing member of the RN team for four seasons and then took over as Team Captain.

L-R: Andrew Mills with World Record holder Aris Spillmann

"Having retired from my regular commission in 2007, I was offered a position on the staff of the St Moritz Tobogganing Club, the original, most famous and most high profile of all the winter sports."The Cresta RunThe Cresta Run is the oldest sporting ice sculpture in the world and one of only two made of natural ice.Riders go down as an individual on a toboggan in a lying position, head-first and at speeds of up to 80 mph. Even beginners can go at around 50 mph on their first ever ride, using rakes on the end of special boots to brake and steer.

Andrew said: "The Cresta Run is one of the fastest and most dangerous tracks in the world, because our banks are open, meaning if you don't steer you literally fall out of the Run.

"Up until the 1920s, when military aircraft were being developed, the Cresta Run was the fastest a man could travel on the planet and survive."This year we had one rider taken away by helicopter, three by ambulance and many broken limbs and badly battered, bloodied and bruised riders.

"In my 14 years working on the staff I have now witnessed four deaths and multiple broken backs, legs, arms and internal damage and that is before you start including broken fingers, badly gashed and bloodied heads, arms and legs.

Andrew on the Cresta Run

"It is rather brutal, but we love it.”

Andrew (front) with his 2015 Cresta Run team mates
Andrew (centre) at the 2022 presentation ceremony