Steele has eyes on Olympics

THE looming summer sun may be hot on the minds of most 23-year-olds at this time of the year.

Not Michelle Steele.

The former Elliot Heads surf lifesaver only has eyes for the ice as she attempts to qualify for next year's Vancouver Winter Olympics.

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) skeleton squad member will fly to Utah for a World Cup series on Friday chasing a ticket to the Games.

After a disappointing 2008 season, Steele feels confident she can return to the form that saw her compete in the Torino Winter Olympics in 2006.

“THIS last off-season has been the best that I have had so far,” Steele said.

“Last season was quite a bad season.

“I had two results that I was happy with; other than that I had a pretty tough time.

“But I'm still confident going into this year.”

Two representatives from each of the top six teams in the series of eight races will qualify for the Olympics.

Steele will fly to the United States on Friday to start preparations for the event.

She will train at the Park City facility in Utah where she has been training for most of the off-season.

The first event in three events of the championship will take place in the United States and Canada before the team travels to Europe for the rest of the cup.

After finishing the 2008/2009 season in March, Steele can not wait to begin the new season.

“I feel fitter and stronger than I ever have,” Steele said.

She also has a better bearing on her sport than she did last Olympics.

When qualifying for Torino began, Steele had only been competing in skeleton racing for about 18 months.

Now in her fifth season, the former beach sprinter is growing more comfortable in her adopted sport.

“The learning process leading into the Torino Olympics was fairly accelerated and we had to pick it up pretty quickly,” she said.

“But now I have had a few seasons under my belt I have a good feel for the sport and where I have to work to improve.”

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