By Duncan Mackay in Vancouver
February 18 - Amy Williams (pictured) is in pole position to win Britain's first gold medal of these Olympics after a stunning performance in the opening two rounds in the bob skeleton at the Whistler Sliding Center tonight.
The 27-year-old from Bath, who entered the event as Britain's number two to Turin 2006 Olympic silver medallist Shelley Rudman, set a searing pace as she smashed the course record on the controversial track on which Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed last week.
Williams, who is studying for a sports performance degree at Bath University, recorded a combined time of 1min 47.96sec in her first two runs of the four-heat event.
In the first heat, Williams, who was the runner-up at last year’s World Championships, carved through the 16 high-speed corners in 53.83 to set a new track record and open up a lead by 0.31 over Canada’s Amy Gough.
Although not faultless, her second run of 54.13 was enough to maintain her advantage at 0.30 over Germany’s Kerstin Szymkowiak.
Canada's pre-event favourite Mellisa Hollingsworth was third, almost-four-tenths of a second off the pace.
Williams said: "I didn't really expect to be in front place right now.
"It was a good first day, but there are two more runs left, so I'm going to concentrate on them and not get ahead of myself.
"I'm just trying to relax and enjoy it.
"We are still learning things on this track and there is still room for improvement."
Hollingsworth (pictured), for one, is not giving up on catching Williams.
She said: "I’m disappointed for sure, I’m frustrated a little bit.
"But, it’s still a close race.
"A couple tenths on this track is nothing, especially with two runs to come."
Rudman, who has never looked comfortable on this track even in practice, was seventh overall nearly a second behind Williams, improving from 11th after the opening heat.
The 28-year-old from Wiltshire said: "The second run was a dramatic improvement so at least I'm going away smiling.
"I want to go better than that tomorrow and I'm going to give it everything."
Women's skeleton is only being held in the Games for the third time.
It made its debut at Salt Lake City in 2002, when the Royal Air Force's Alex Coomber claimed the bronze.
Rudman took silver four years later in Turin - Britain's only success of the Games - so gold for Williams would be natural progression.
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February 2010: Rudman has no safety fears about death track
February 2009: Silver medal for Briton on Vancouver Olympic track
January 2009: Briton wins silver medal in Skeleton World Championships