SHEFFIELD’S Shelley Rudman rose to the big occasion once again as she was crowned world skeleton champion in St Moritz after blitzing her big-name rivals by more than half a second.
Rudman, the 2006 Olympic silver medallist, took a one-second advantage into the final two runs and held off America’s Noelle Pikus-Pace by 0.57secs, with Canada’s Sarah Reid pipping Great Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold to bronze.
It was an emphatic performance by Rudman, whose win made her the first British woman to claim a sliding world title and the first Briton since her partner Kristan Bromley won the men’s title in 2008.
Rudman said: “I’m so happy because this was the one medal in my sport I hadn’t won. I always set goals and the world title was always my priority this year.
“I had quite a good cushion going into my final two runs but I am experienced enough to know it was nowhere near over. I spent all last night knowing just one mistake could put me out of the medals.”
Rudman is not the first British slider to find an affinity with the St Moritz track. Olympic champions Tony Nash and Robin Dixon won world gold there in 1965, as did Frederick McEvoy’s four-man crew in 1937.
Rudman and Yarnold will prepare to head to Sochi where they will get their first taste of next year’s Winter Olympic track at the final World Cup race of the regular season in a fortnight’s time.
Rudman, who followed her silver medal in Turin with a relatively disappointing performance in Vancouver in 2010, believes she will begin her build-up towards 2014 in better shape than ever.
“I’ve been in two Olympic environments – one where I went in as an unknown with no pressure and won silver, then in Vancouver where I was in the best form of my life but I just didn’t get on with the track.
“I’ve built up quite a range of experiences in the Olympics so, hopefully, I can bring that into play. I can’t wait to go to Sochi and start to get to know the track ahead of next year’s Games.”
Rudman is pictured speeding down the course during the third run of the women’s skeleton World Championship in St Moritz, Switzerland.
picture: AP Photo/Keystone, Arno Balzarini.