Laura Deas: Briton claims skeleton World Cup gold

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Laura Deas on swapping her saddle for skeleton

Britain's Laura Deas showed that there is life after Lizzy Yarnold by claiming a first World Cup title at the season-opening race in Altenberg, Germany.

Olympic champion Yarnold is taking a year away from the sport, whilst Deas' previous best result was second.

The former eventing rider was in second place after the first run, but produced a stunning second to claim gold.

"Winning a race at the top level for my country is something I've dreamt about for a long time," said Deas.

"Last year was a breakthrough season for me and I've been saying all summer that I just want to kick on and keep improving, so this is a big confidence boost."

Deas, who was second in Calgary and third in St Moritz last season, finished in a combined time of one minute 57.84 seconds, ahead of Germany's world silver medallist Tina Hermann (+0.04).

Hermann's compatriot Jacqueline Loelling (+0.17) was third while Britain's Donna Creighton finished 11th, 1.25 seconds behind Deas.

Mark Lewis-Francis and Bruce Tasker
Ex-sprinter Mark Lewis-Francis believes he can add a Winter Olympic medal to his collection come 2018

Elsewhere, 2004 Olympic sprint relay champion Mark Lewis-Francis (left) finished eighth in his competitive bobsleigh debut, having joined the GB set-up in September.

He partnered pilot Bruce Tasker in the two-man competition at the season-opening Europa Cup event in Winterberg, Germany.

"I definitely felt a real buzz when I was standing on the start line and, to be totally honest, I loved it," Lewis-Francis told BBC Sport.

"It's obviously very different to athletics, but the feeling you get in terms of representing your country and the sense of satisfaction you get from doing it well is exactly the same."

The event also marked Olympic pilot John Jackson mark his return from injury after a year away.

After placing 21st in his first two-man competition back on the ice on Friday, he went on to claim European Cup silver with his four-man crew of Bruce Tasker, Ben Simons and Brad Hall on Sunday.

Lamin Deen - pushed by Joel Fearon, John Baines and Andrew Matthews - rounded off the opening weekend of the skeleton and bobsleigh World Cup in Altenberg with a strong sixth-place finish in the four-man competition.

"It's been a super Sunday for the squad on both circuits," GB Bobsleigh performance director Gary Anderson told BBC Sport..

"They performed when it really mattered and sent out a message to all the other nations that we intend to be challenging for the podium wherever we race this season."

Mark Lewis-Francis swaps his baton for a bobsleigh

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