China's skeleton talent Zhao Dan ranks 7th on world debut at Winter YOG

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ST. MORITZ, Switzerland, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- China's skeleton talent Zhao Dan, seen as one of the hopefuls for Beijing 2022, won the 7th place in women's race here at St. Moritz Olympia Bob Run on Sunday on her first world competition at 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games.

Reaching close to the pre-race goal of top six, Zhao finished 1 minute and 12.27 seconds in the first run and 1:12.06 in the second. Her top speed hit 132.08 kms per hour, but the young athlete was not satisfied with the final ranking for her best result in the official training was 1:12.00.

Zhao told Xinhua that the long straight track at the start is difficult to drive and the track between the 5th and 6th curve is the most crucial one that she did not slide well through.

Having nine test runs before the competition, Zhao believed that she could race much better if she got more chances to get fit.

"Experience is very important in this sport. You might make tiny corrections to improve a bit when you have more runs," said the 17-year-old.

As the coach of China's women's skeleton team, Patrick Shannon was proud and excited to see Zhao's rapid progress.

"She has never been on this race before, competing with lots of girls with more racing experience. This is her first season. She has really improved very quickly. It's fantastic to be in top ten," said the Irishman, "the first year is always very difficult. Today she is really close to the target and I'm very happy."

Shannon sees great potential in the young talent and believes she can do something big en route to the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games.

"She has great start with good physical qualities, which is obviously big advantage. She's got good mindset and loves the sport. She has very consistent driving skill. When you got that, it's easy to learn the track and make the changes."

In skeleton race, there're hundreds of ways to get through the track, the athletes have to find out which is the best way for them. Zhao is at the beginning and has many things to learn.

"She is still very young and will keep growing stronger. We're going to send her to different levels' tracks for the next year's competition so that she could gain more experience. Year by year, she will manage the difficult one. She can be on the top level in a few years training," said Shannon

As for Beijing 2022, the Chinese athlete has the home track advantage and can spend most of the time on this particular track, but need to get enough points to qualify, which means she has to learn other tracks worldwide and get more experience. It's on the schedule for Zhao this season.

Finally, Anastasiia Tsyganova from Russia won the gold finishing 2:22.50 over two runs, with 0.03 second lead over the second placed Josefa Schellmoser from Germany. The bronze medal went to Schellmoser's compatriot Sissi Schroedl with a time of 2:22.95. Enditem

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