REIGNING World Cup champion Shelley Rudman believes a first podium finish of this season is within reach as the north American leg of the series draws to a close.
The Pewsey skeleton ace, 31, has made a low-key start to the defence of her crown, improving on her seventh place in the opening round at Lake Placid two weeks ago with fifth at Park City, Utah, last week.
The 2006 Winter Olympic silver medallist, pictured, has eased herself in after recovering from a pre-season hamstring pull, conducting in-competition testing with the long-term goal of the Sochi 2014 Olympics in mind.
With round three at the 2010 Olympic venue of Whistler taking place tomorrow, before the series heads back over to Europe, the Wiltshire slider hopes she is approaching the sort of form need to trouble the leaders once more.
“I'm really happy with the way everything is going,’’ she told the Gazette & Herald from Canada this week.
“My starts are getting faster and faster each race and last week in the Park City race I even got a start PB (personal best) which was an added bonus. There’s definitely more in the tank.
The mum of one believes she would have reached the podium in Utah last week, but for one moment in her second run.
She added: “I analysed my timing splits after the race and my driving on the race day was really good.
“I pretty much outdrove all the other competitors, the only thing that put me into fifth position was the deficit at the start to the fastest pushers and I came out of curve 14 and brushed the right wall leading up to curve 15, which put me into a huge power slide.
“I lost about three-tenths (of a second) but this was the only thing that kept me from the podium so this is a real positive.’’
Rudman was third in the Whistler leg of the series last year, having struggled with the track when she finished sixth in the 2010 Olympics.
She added: “I'm getting there. It’s still definitely not my favourite track but I like a challenge so we will see what happens.’’
The opening run in tomorrow’s race takes place from 5pm (British time).
- Follow Shelley’s progress in Whistler tomorrow at gazetteandherald.co.uk/sport