Lizzy Yarnold wins Lake Placid World Cup gold in skeleton return

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Lizzy Yarnold
Lizzy Yarnold won gold in the World Cup event at Lake Placid, finishing ahead of Canada's Elisabeth Vathje

Olympic skeleton champion Lizzy Yarnold made a winning return to the sport with victory in the season-opening Lake Placid World Cup in the United States.

Yarnold won the overall World Cup title last season, but had not competed since claiming gold in Sochi in February.

She finished her two runs in a combined time of one minute 51.16 seconds, with Canada's Elisabeth Vathje second and Janine Flock of Austria third.

"I knew I had to bring my best and fortunately I did," said Yarnold.

The 26-year-old slider recently experienced her first crash during a training run in Germany - something she attributed to 'complacency' after her recent domination of the sport.

Despite the absence of now retired Olympic silver medallist Noelle Pikus-Pace and World champion Shelley Rudman, who is pregnant, Yarnold showed no signs of overconfidence.

The Bath-based athlete led by 0.30 secs at the halfway stage before securing victory by 0.77 secs with a solid second run on the track she also claimed gold on last season.

"With it being early in the season I was a bit apprehensive that I wouldn't be fast enough," admitted Yarnold.

"There have been so many retirements, but the younger athletes are so good and that is pushing me to go quicker."

Team-mate Rose McGrandle finished an impressive sixth, while World Cup debutant Laura Deas was 12th.

2014-15 Skeleton-Bobsleigh World Cups
Lake Placid, USA - 8-13 DecSt. Moritz, Switzerland - 19-25 Jan
Calgary, Canada - 15-20 DecLa Plagne, France - 26 Jan-1 Feb
Altenberg, Germany - 5-11 JanIgls, Austria - 2-8 Feb
Königssee, Germany - 12-18 JanSochi, Russia - 10-15 Feb

Latvian Martins Dukurs took the victory in the men's skeleton event, but it was a difficult day for Britain's Dom Parsons and Ed Smith who finished 14th and 18th respectively.

In the men's season-opening two-man bobsleigh competition Britain's Lamin Deen and breakman Jordan Smallin were 16th in a race won by German duo Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis.

Saturday will see the women's two-man and men's four-man bobsleigh events take place in Lake Placid.

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