Winter Olympics 2014: Lizzy Yarnold flying high ahead of women's skeleton after topping the tables in both training heats

Yarnold is one of Great Britain's best gold medal hopes

Lizzy Yarnold underlined her position as hot favourite for the women's skeleton gold medal by recording the fastest times in both official training heats at the Sanki Sliding Center in Rosa Khutor on Tuesday.

The Kent slider went 0.10 seconds faster than Russian Maria Orlova in her opening heat on Tuesday morning, and extended that advantage to 0.37 seconds over Canadian Sarah Reid in the second run.

Yarnold's closest rival, American Noelle Pikus-Pace, chose to sit out the optional training runs, reportedly in order to protect a lingering back problem.

Yarnold will have two more official training runs on Wednesday before she begins her quest to become the fourth consecutive Olympic women's skeleton gold medallist from Great Britain over four runs, with the first two scheduled for Thursday.

Yarnold said: "It was good fun - I have two more (training) runs left and each run has to be a real experiment. I have to try as many lines as I can and work out what's the best thing to do in the race.

 

"The competition is so fierce. We're a group of very, very strong and ambitious women, so I'm very proud to compete alongside them. I'm just here to do my best and to do myself justice."

A spokesperson for the US Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation later said Pikus-Pace had chosen to sit out of the official training runs in order to relax with friends and family.

The American chose the same tactic during a race over the same course in November - and won.

PA

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