HIGH SPEED: Michelle Steele was chosen by the Australian Institute of Sport talent identification scheme to train the sport of skeleton due to her explosive speed.
HIGH SPEED: Michelle Steele was chosen by the Australian Institute of Sport talent identification scheme to train the sport of skeleton due to her explosive speed. Contributed

Skeleton to breathe fresh life into medal hunt

THE thought of lying down on a small board with your face just centimetres from the ice while hurtling along a hard track at more than 130kmh may not be your idea of fun, but for Australian sliders Michelle Steele and Lucy Chaffer it is a welcome exhilaration.

The sliders are hoping to snag  medals for Australia at the Sochi Games when they compete in the women's skeleton today.

They have had a couple of practice runs on the course and have given it the thumbs up.

"I really enjoyed it," said Steele after her run.

"It's in great condition. It's looking fast."

Steele, from Bundaberg, impressed in her Olympic debut in Torino in 2006, finishing just outside the top 10 and becoming the first Australian woman to compete in the skeleton at the Olympics.

Her speed was honed on the sands of Queensland beaches with the former surf lifesaver an ace at the beach flags event.

Steele missed out on a place in the last Games in Vancouver but has had a good World Cup season leading up to Sochi, winning bronze at the Calgary event.

Chaffer, too, is no stranger to surf lifesaving, having competed in the sport as well as water polo and netball before committing to the skeleton.

The West Australian has had a consistent World Cup season featuring a number of top-10 finishes.

Meanwhile, slopestyle skier Russ Henshaw could be forgiven for pinching himself at the top of his qualifying run tomorrow.

The 23-year-old from Sydney broke his kneecap into 30 pieces as a teenager, with doctors warning that he would battle to walk again.

But Henshaw was soon back on the slopes but suffered another setback in 2011 when he tore his anterior crucial ligament.

Despite the setbacks, Henshaw has had a good build-up with encouraging performances in the World Cup events and is determined to ski to his potential.

"I usually ski at my best when I am having fun so I'm trying to look at it as just another competition."

AUSSIES IN ACTION

Biathlon: men's sprint - Alex Almoukov

Cross country skiing: women's 10k classical - Aimee Watson

Ski slopestyle: men - Russ Henshaw

Skeleton: women's run 1, run 2: Michelle Steele, Lucy Chaffer



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