Two of Yorkshire’s best bets for a medal at the Winter Olympics hit the gold trail in Sochi today with optimism having been dented by less-than-ideal preparation.
Sheffield’s James Woods, the overall World Cup champion has been hampered in training ever since injuring his hip in a practice run over the slopestyle course at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park last Friday.
And his fellow Steel City resident Shelley Rudman has yet to master the track at the Sanki Sliding Centre despite coming into her third Olympics as a World Cup bronze medallist.
Rudman has placed well down the list of skeleton sliders ahead of the first two runs today, with the medals to be decided tomorrow.
She ranked eighth and third yesterday in training, but not all the sliders were competing.
“I feel like it has taken a lot to get to this point to be here in Sochi, I know I couldn’t have done anymore,” said Rudman, Britain’s only medallist eight years ago when she won silver in Turin.
“I’ve been trying to get to grips with the two uphill curves, so I will do a lot of analysis again tonight and then tomorrow what will be, will be.”
Her team-mate Lizzy Yarnold is the overwhelming favourite having won the World Cup this season and setting consistent runs at the top of the timesheets in practice.
“Lizzy’s going really well,” said Rudman, 32, whose runs are at 7.30am and 8.40am today. “Hopefully, we’ll see some more great results from her over the next few days.”
Woods remains one of Britain’s big hopes for a medal despite suffering injury on a skiing slopestyle training run last week which has left a question mark over his ability to deliver his best.
Slopestyle is new to the Olympics and as well as capturing the imagination, it has also proven in the events so far that anything can happen on any given day.
“I’m not 100 per cent and certain motions do hurt but everyone is carrying something and this is a gnarly sport to do,” said Woods, who learned to ski at Sheffield’s dry slopes. “It’s never going to be perfect, you just have to do the best you can to perform as well as you can.
“It happened on the course about a week ago (last Friday). It was a run of bad decisions from myself and rather than landing smoothly I took a bit of a slam.
“I don’t know what it will take to win a medal but it’s going to be an amazing show.
“I’m excited to be a part of this team, it’s something I will cherish forever. I want to get out there and give my absolute all, whether it’s battling myself or everyone else in the field.”
Thirsk’s John Baines has been promoted to Great Britain’s two-man bobsleigh in place of the injured Craig Pickering.
The event takes place on Sunday and Monday and Baines, 28, said: “Training and racing with Craig over the past year has been a honour, and when I race this weekend I will do him proud.
“I have competed in the two-man on World Cup before and achieved top 10 results and feel confident for the weekend.”
It was a mixed day for GB’s curling teams.
The men emerged from a cagey contest against European champions Switzerland with a 4-2 victory.
But the women’s team lost 9-6 against Canada.
Britain’s Chemmy Alcott finished in 19th place finish in the alpine skiing blue riband event, the women’s downhill.