ST. MORITZ, Switzerland (AP) — Shelley Rudman of Britain won her first skeleton world championship title on Friday, holding off a strong challenge from Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States.
Rudman's one-second lead from the opening two runs Thursday was cut to 0.57 by Pikus-Pace, who was fastest in the final two runs and took silver. "I was a bit more relaxed coming into today," Rudman said. "But I still didn't expect to win until it was over. Things went well, so I'm happy."
Sarah Reid of Canada earned bronze, trailing 1.41 behind Rudman's combined time of 4 minutes, 38.60 seconds on the Olympia track. In the men's skeleton, Alexander Tretyakov of Russia led after the opening two runs.
The 31-year-old Rudman added the world title to her victory in the season-long 2012 World Cup. Pikus-Pace, the 2007 world champion in St. Moritz, got silver in her comeback season after a two-year competitive break from the sport.
"What a great day," Pikus-Pace said. "I felt so much better today and I am excited to be on the medal stand." One course record was broken by junior world champion Elena Nikitina of Russia, who got the fastest start on the historic course at 5.20 seconds to the first time check.
Racers now head to Sochi, Russia, to complete the World Cup season in two weeks on the new sliding track built for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Tretyakov, the 2010 Olympics bronze medalist, held a slim 0.09 advantage on two-time defending world champion Martins Dukurs of Latvia.
The Russian slider was fastest in both runs for a combined time of 2 minutes 15.77 seconds. Another Russian, Sergei Chudinov, trailed Tretyakov by 0.65 in third place.