Steele's Olympic hopes on thin ice
INNES Park’s Michelle Steele faces a do-or-die meet this weekend as she makes a last-ditch effort to impress selectors before next month’s Winter Olympics.
Steele, 23, will make one final push for the Australian Games team at the Intercontinental Cup Skeleton Meet in Calgary, Canada this weekend.
But it will be an uphill battle for the former surf lifesaving beach sprinter.
Currently ranked third among Australians on International Federation of Bobsleigh and Tobogganing points ladder, Steele has two races to improve her position before the team of two is selected next week.
“She knows that all she can do now is go out and do her best and make the best impression on the selectors,” her mother Janet, of Innes Park, said.
Selectors will have to choose between Steele, Melissa Hoar (ranked 10th) and Emma Lincoln-Smith (13th) for the two spots on the team.
The former Olympian’s chances of selection took a hit last week when Lincoln-Smith and Hoar scored top 10 finishes in the World Cup race at St Moritz, Switzerland.
That was a day after Steele finished second in the Intercontinental Cup race at Lake Placid.
“That really gave her hopes a hit; it didn’t look good after that,” Janet said.
“She isn’t optimistic about her chances but she is hopeful.
“Her goal now remains the same as it has for the past four years – to make it back to the Olympics.
“She knows that all she can do is race these last two races and the other girls will race theirs.”
Under 2010 Australian winter team rules, two criteria are used to select representatives.
One slider will be selected on form, the recommendation of the head coach and an assessment of her chances at the Winter Olympics.
The other selection is made on world ranking.
With 658 points, Steele is 118 points behind Lincoln-Smith and 176 points behind Hoar in the world rankings.
Steele started the season in the World Cup and one of Australia’s top selections in skeleton.
But Hoar was able to dominate the America’s Cup and the Intercontinental Cup early in the season and rise up the table.
When Hoar was brought into the World Cup team, Steele raced in the America’s Cup, where she finished first and second before moving to the Intercontinental Cup last week.
She will race Friday and Saturday morning.