Hollingsworth has Rudman on her tail

Wed Feb 3, 2010 9:12pm EST
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - High-speed mother Shelley Rudman threatens to wreck home favorite Mellisa Hollingsworth's dream of Olympic gold when the skeleton competition reaches its climax at the Whistler Sliding Center this month.

Rudman, Britain's only medalist in Turin when she won silver in the event which pitches sliders head first down an icy chute with nothing more than a few centimeters of carbon fiber beneath them, just missed out on the World Cup title to Canada's Hollingsworth but is ready to turn the tables on February 19.

With Swiss Olympic champion Maya Pedersen, who like Rudman has taken time off to have a baby since Turin, struggling, the battle for women's gold this time looks like being between Canada and Britain although a clutch of Germans led by Kerstin Szymkowiak will also be podium challengers.

"I'm pretty excited," Rudman told Reuters. "Mellisa and I are quite good friends. She is a really strong slider and we have been toing and froing all season and although she's strong I'm on her tail. I hope she does well but I hope I do better."

The Canadians have the distinct advantage of significantly more ice time on the treacherous Whistler track with their sliders enjoying some 300 training runs compared to the 30 athletes from other nations must make do with.

It is not ideal and rather unfair, Rudman says, but she believes the overwhelming home support Hollingsworth will enjoy could add to the pressure on her shoulders.


"Mellisa will be starting off number one after winning the overall World Cup," said Rudman, whose partner and father of daughter Ella, Kristan Bromley, will be gunning for a men's medal.   Continued...

<p>Mellisa Hollingsworth of Canada competes in the women's skeleton race during the Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup competition in the Bavarian resort of Schoenau am Koenigssee January 8, 2010. Hollingsworth won ahead of Germany's Kerstin Szymkowiak and Shelley Rudman of Britain. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle</p>