Winter Olympic skeleton hopeful Michelle Steele takes some rare time out at her Innes Park home for Christmas before flying back to Lake Placid and resuming her tilt for back-to-back Olympic Games.
Winter Olympic skeleton hopeful Michelle Steele takes some rare time out at her Innes Park home for Christmas before flying back to Lake Placid and resuming her tilt for back-to-back Olympic Games. RON BURGIN

Vancouver dream not over

She knew qualifying for successive Olympic Games was not going to be easy.

But three other Aussies want a ticket to Vancouver just as badly as Michelle Steele, meaning she is going to have to earn it.

Steele, of Innes Park, is entrenched in a battle with team mates Melissa Hoar, Emma Lincoln-Smith and Lucy Chaffer — she says nothing could split the quartet at this stage.

“The depth is just huge within our own team, and we are all recording very similar times and sitting on similar points. It’s level pegging,” Steele said.

But it is likely only two girls will get the chance to achieve their dream.

Unless the Australians can qualify in the top two nations, a result which appears out of reach, only two sliders will be allowed to represent the nation in Vancouver on the fastest track in the world.

“Germany and Canada are hard to beat, but we are looking good for two girls to qualify,” she said, content from her seaside home.

As part of a team rotation, Steele was relegated to the lower-tier America’s Cup meet for the final race in Salt Lake City before returning home.

She recorded a first and second place — a result that keeps her in the hunt for Vancouver.

“I’ve been happy with my sliding and my coach Terry Holland is happy as well. He can see I’m training well and at this stage I’m still every chance of being in the top two girls,” she said.

She said her relegation to the America’s Cup was a tactical move by Holland, looking to consolidate Australia’s spot in the top six nations, rather than a sign she was out of favour with selectors.

“My starting times are in the top two in the world and my down times are up there with the best,” Steele said.

“Any one of the top 10 or 15 girls is capable of sliding fastest; you’ve just got to be there at the right time and have a perfect run.”

The rigors of competition have taken their toll this year, but Steele’s determination has not wavered.

“Qualifying for another Olympics is everything to me. I’ve been training since Torino for this and it’s the reason I’m racing.”



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