Eurosport - Tue, 16 Feb 11:29:00 2010
Shelley Rudman insists she has no fear of the controversial track at the Whistler Sliding Centre - but is afraid there may be too much work to do to win Olympic skeleton gold in Vancouver.
Rudman, silver medallist in Turin four years ago, took to the track for the first time since October and just three days after the tragic death of Georgian luge slider Nodar Kumaritashvili.
Following Kumaritashvili's crash, numerous question marks have been raised as to the safety of the track in Whistler, though the International Luge Federation's insistence the accident was a result of athlete error.
Despite their conclusions the FIL still opted to shorten the track for the luge competitions - but the skeleton course is unchanged, ensuring the Canadians remain at a significant advantage.
Rudman's Canadian rivals Mellisa Hollingsworth and Amy Gough have had approximately ten times the number of training runs in Whistler as the Brit, and it was the Canadian duo who topped the pile in training.
While Rudman insists she will not hold back in Whistler she admitted Hollingsworth, the bronze medallist in Turin, will be hard to catch.
"I don't feel that the course is dangerous, it is like any other track, if you are not completely on the ball or you are a little bit tired, it can catch you out," she said.
"What happened was tragic and it's been many years since our sport has experienced anything like that. It was very upsetting and I can't imagine what his family must be going through.
"It was a really sad few days for everybody. But we are here now and everyone got down fine during training.
"I know that everyone is expecting me to go home with a medal and I'll try my very best.
"But I am being honest when I say I am up against a lot in Mellisa. I am eight tenths away from her in training, where as usually I'm very close.
"I have got a good head on my shoulders but it's going to be tough."
Rudman was the ninth fastest on her first training run before improving to fifth on her second but has just four more training runs before the real thing.
And she revealed she has not fully come to terms with the track just yet.
"I had to push off quickly during my first training run just so I felt comfortable with the speed and the second I pushed even harder and I was fine," she added.
"I'm fairly experienced having been sliding for seven years and I didn't have a problem in that bottom section, I had a problem further up."
Meanwhile, Canada could be set for a medal sweep with Jon Montgomery the fastest in both's men's training runs, with team-mate Jeff Pain his nearest rival.
But there is work to do for former British world champion Kristan Bromley and team-mate and World Championship medallist Adam Pengilly.
Bromley was eighth and sixth fastest in his runs while Pengilly was well off the pace, finishing 12th and 14th respectively.
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