WINTER OLYMPICS: Shelley gets her head around Sochi track
SHELLEY Rudman admitted she is finally starting to master the Olympic skeleton track – but concedes it could be all too late.
The reigning world champion has been working hard to learn the highly-technical track at the Sanki Sliding Center, conceding it was taking time to learn the vagaries of its complex twists and unusual uphill sections.
She lies 11th after two runs of the women's skeleton, meaning her hopes of a second Olympic medal, following a silver eight years ago in Turin, now appear slim.
After two runs the 32-year-old is 1.90 seconds behind leader and teammate Lizzy Yarnold, who looks well placed to win Britain's first Olympic gold medal of the Games later today (Friday).
However, Rudman insists pushing into the top ten will still be a great return for a third Olympic campaign.
"I didn't get curve 14 on the first run and it's an uphill section so that bled my time," she said.
"I pushed a lot faster for the second run and made up a bit of time, so I can only be pleased with that.
"It's not a bad day and hopefully there is more to come. I'm just really enjoying the experience and being part of the Olympics again.
"I hope I can move up a bit after I got my second run more to how I want it to be, but if I don't, I still have to be happy with what I have done."
Rudman also revealed she was taken by surprise by the G forces on the track, that stripped the plastic lining of her helmet.
"It's a bit of a victim of the G forces we get, but I'll give it to the people who make those things right overnight and have it ready for next time," she added.
Yarnold looks in a solid position to claim Britain's fourth consecutive Olympic skeleton medal, following Alex Coomber's bronze in 2002, Rudman's silver and a gold for Amy Williams four years ago in Vancouver.
But British team boss Nigel Laughton still believes Rudman has room for improvement.
"It's a shame she's not had a couple more training runs," he said. "Another two runs in practice and she's not a million miles away. She can certainly jump some positions and she knows that.
"She's not getting certain areas of the track absolutely right and she probably needs some more time but that's running out.
"She's a super competitor and she knows how to slide and she will come out fighting. They are few stacked up just ahead of her and hopefully she will gain some more places.
"She's enjoying the experience of her third Games, is really relaxed but it just needs to click for her."
Jerry Kunkler, landlord of the Moonrakers pub in Pewsey, which has become known as the headquarters of the Shelley supporters’ club, said: “She won’t win anything now which has put a bit of a damper on things but I’m not disappointed because where else in the village is someone going to get to three Olympics?
“From coming from nothing, just doing the 110 metre hurdles at school, to this is an achievement in itself.
“I’ve spoken to her mum and dad and they’re just thrilled that she’s made it over there for her third Olympics.”
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