Nikitina slides to World Cup and European double despite Olympic ban
Elena Nikitina - who has been banned from the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games - has won both skeleton World Cup gold and the European title after an impressive showing in Austria.
The Russian has been banned for breaching anti-doping rules at Sochi 2014, where she claimed her now-stripped bronze, but was allowed to compete in Innsbruck – the fifth round of the World Cup that doubled up at the European Championship – after the IBSF lifted its initial ban.
She made the most of the chance to register the fastest times in both of her runs, the first seeing her stop the clock in 54.51s.
Going two hundredths of a second quicker in the next effort was enough to take top spot on the podium, with Elisabeth Vathje second after two consistent runs.
Winner Elena Nikitina of Russia celebrates on the podium after the second run of the women's skeleton event during the fifth of eight races within the 2017-2018 IBSF World Cup Bobsled and Skeleton series on December 15, 2017 at the Olympic Bobsleigh Run aGetty Images
The Canadian had been third at the halfway point, but Jacqueline Loelling was unable to improve on her first effort to slip down to fourth in the World Cup race, though it was still enough to take European Championship silver.
Mirela Rahneva was third quickest down the Innsbruck track, while fifth went to Janine Flock, finishing as the third fastest European to take the bronze medal.
It was a close-run thing too, with Great Britain’s Laura Deas just one one-hundredth of a second away from a European medal after finishing sixth overall.
"Innsbruck is my track! It’s short and pretty easy so it’s good for speedy starters. And I had two great heats, too," said Nikitina.