PERFORMANCE director Nigel Laughton reckons the Great Britain skeleton team are in sparkling shape and is quietly confident over his quartet’s chances of medals in Sochi.

Laughton, who lives in Box, said: “We’re in good shape and the athletes are primed. We’ve have good seasons across the board, we’re happy with results, and we’re confident going in to the Games.

“The Olympics is a one-off but every other race is pretty much a one-off too and we’ve been doing alright in those.

“Those who can stay mentally focussed, can avoid being distracted and can focus in on what they need to do will succeed and I’m really confident that we can do that.”

Laughton has been impressed with Rudman’s ability to disregard the pressure of the Olympic season so far and doesn’t think her quest for gold has been hindered by the success of her World Cup series-winning compatriot Lizzy Yarnold.

He added: “Shelley is experienced, she’s been to the Games before, she knows what it takes and she’s been totally focussed on what she needs to do for four years really,”

“If you’re a stats person, the number of medallists from the World Championships the year before going on to medal at the Olympic Games is huge.

“This can be used as a great confidence boost but she’s medalled at a Games before, so she knows exactly what she needs to do and I’m absolutely certain that she will be competitive and deliver in Sochi .

“I listened to Lizzy on her podium a couple of weeks ago, talking about what a great mentor Shelley has been and how she’s a great buddy, really helping. That’s terrific and it’s really good from a British Skeleton point of view.

“There’s no question that they both want to win but they’ll do everything they can to help each other compete against the other countries out there.”

Laughton also insists that the British competitors won’t be distracted by security threats casting a shadow over this month’s Games.

“Of course everyone is interested, family and friends in particular, but we concentrate on the performance end and then there’ s a whole raft of people who are supporting us in terms of security and every other way, so that we’re allowed to concentrate on what we need to do,” he said.

“We’re very comfortable with that – the BOA and Team GB are very capable and competent in looking after security and everything else.”

What is skeleton?

  • SKELETON involves a descent on a special track with artificially frozen ice on a sled with steel runners and a weighted frame without steering. The athlete, who wears a special durable helmet, gloves and elastic fabric tracksuit, lays face down and head first in direction, controlling the sled using special spikes on their shoes.
  • IT was not adopted as an Olympic discipline until the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games.
  • GREAT Britain has won a medal in the women’s event at every Olympics since it became part of the programme, Alex Coomber (bronze at Salt Lake City in 2002) being followed by Shelley Rudman (silver at Turin in 2006) and Amy Williams (gold at Vancouver in 2010).
  • THE Olympic skeleton competition lasts for two days, with each athlete completing a total of four runs, with the winner having the lowest overall total time.
  • THE women’s skeleton in Sochi takes place on Thursday- Friday, February 13-14. Heats 1-2 are at 7.30 and 8.40am (British time) on Thursday, with heat 3-4 at 3.40 and 4.50pm on Friday.