SKELETON: Shelley leads World Championships at midway point

10:40am Thursday 31st January 2013

SHELLEY Rudman threw down the gauntlet to her rivals with an outstanding first two runs at the World Championships in Switzerland today.

Pewsey slider Rudman, who has struggled since being struck down by a chest infection and flu at Christmas, roared back to form in the opening pair of four outings at St Moritz this morning.

The 31 year old, who is the defending World Cup champion but has never won the World Championships, clocked 1:09.54 for her outing, then watched her rivals struggle to get anywhere near her mark.

America's Noelle Pikus-Pace was the nearest challenger, 0.45 of a second adrift, with Rudman's British compatriot Lizzy Yarnold a further 0.16 of a second adrift.

German rivals Marion Thees and Anja Huber were struggling further down the field, with Canada's Sarah Reid in eighth position.

It got even better for the Wiltshire competitor second time out, as she went even faster at 1:09.49, putting a full second between herself and Pikus-Pace in second.

Rudman told Eurosport: "I think there is always room for improvement. I will be having a look back at some of the curves I didn't think went so well."

It marks a major return to form for Rudman, who won a World Cup race in Winterberg in December, in a season she has admitted using for development purposes ahead of next year's Sochi Winter Olympics.

Victory in the World Championships would be a major boost to Rudman's ambitions of challenging for gold at next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi and could earn her a boost to her funding.

MORE ON THIS STORY AT GAZETTEANDHERALD.CO.UK/SPORT LATER

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