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Olympics-Skeleton at the Sochi Winter Games

Reuters

Jan 31 (Reuters) - Here are the main facts about skeleton at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

THE COMPETITION

There are only two gold medals to be won in skeleton. Each athlete completes a total of four runs with the winner having the lowest overall time.

If two athletes complete the competition in a tie, they are awarded the same place.

HISTORY

Skeleton has twice been included in the Winter Olympics in the country where it originated, at the Games in St. Moritz in 1928 and 1948.

However, skeleton was then dropped from the programme and not re-adopted as an Olympic discipline until the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.

Amy Williams's victory in the women's event gave Britain its only medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics, as well as its first individual gold medallist since 1980.

THE VENUE

The Olympic track at the Sanki Sliding Centre winds its way across the northern slope of the Aibga Ridge with a finishing area located in Rzhanaya Polyana. The overall length of the track is 1,814 metres, 314 of which is taken up by the braking area.

There are 17 curves with a vertical drop of some 132m from top to bottom, with its highest point being located at 836m above sea level and its lowest point at 704m.

There are three negative slopes to slow competitors down - with safety as the primary concern following the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili during a training run at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

THE CONTENDERS

Latvian Martins Dukurs starts as hot favourite to go one better than his silver medal four years ago having dominated the sport since then - winning five successive World Cup titles.

His older brother Tomass is another leading contender along with American Matt Antoine and Russian Alexander Tretiakov.

Britons Lizzy Yarnold, the World Cup winner, and Shelley Rudman, the 2006 Games silver medallist, bid to emulate compatriot and now retired Williams in taking women's skeleton gold. American Noelle Pikus-Pace has gone toe-to-toe with Yarnold this season and has the form to take the title. (Compiled by Justin Palmer; Editing by Julien Pretot)

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