Steele sizzles to sensational sixth
ASK any Elliott Heads surf lifesaver the one word that adequately describes Michelle Steele and you can rest assured speed will be at the top of that list.
Not speed of the Keanu Reeves variety, but as in lightning-quick. Electric. Fast.
The dynamic pace the 20-year-old displayed on the sand was put to good use on the quickest skeleton circuit in the world on the weekend.
Hurtling along face-first at speeds only cars in the Northern Territory are allowed to reach, the Winter Olympian finished a mighty sixth at the World Skeleton Championships in Switzerland.
Competing in her first world titles, and in just her second year of sliding, Steele finished the four-run St Moritz event in a total time of 4:47.09 seconds, 2.96 seconds behind the winner, Noelle Pikus-Pace, of the United States.
"It's the longest track we do and the fastest - we get up to 130km per hour," Steele said.
"I'd only raced it once before.
"I was really pleased that my times were better and better each run and I was picking up the track."
The Australian Institute of Sport product's stunning result came on the back of a memorable silver medal at a World Cup event in Japan earlier this month.
But perhaps the statistic which showcases her improvement the most is the fact she finished near the tail of the field at last year's Winter Olympics in Turin.
"It was a really tough field and the times were very close, so I'm really happy with the result," Steele said of her performance on the weekend.
A limited preparation on the St Moritz layout saw Steele set her goal at making the top 10.
"But it's such a tough track and I hadn't really taken to it last year, so I thought that might be stretching it a bit," she said.
"The other girls have trained on it consistently and know it well, and we only had three days training on it.
"That didn't feel like a lot of time to get the feel of the track, get familiar with the turns and the runs and the equipment."
Fellow Australian Emma Lincoln-Smith was far from disgraced, finishing 12th with a total time of 4:49.95.
Steele will resume World Cup competition on the Torino Olympic track on February 9.
She is currently fifth in the World Cup standings.