Laura Deas leads a youthful British women's skeleton squad into action as World Cup sliding returns in Sigulda, Latvia.

A positive COVID-19 test among bobsleigh support staff scuppered the participation of Mica McNeill's team but Deas is healthy, firing and ready to resume racing.

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The 2018 Olympic bronze medallist is joined by Youth Olympic champion Ashleigh Pittaway, 20, and World Cup debutant Amelia Coltman on the ice for the season opener.

"It's always a long wait but it's felt even longer this time because of everything that's been going on in the world,” said the 32-year-old Deas, who finished 11th at March's World Championships - her last competition.

"My coaching staff and the University of Bath did a great job in helping us to train as best we possibly could during the Covid-19 restrictions.

"There's definitely an even bigger sense of excitement to get back racing given that there's been so much uncertainty over what might happen this season.

"We feel lucky to have the opportunity to compete and I think that's made all of us even more determined to make the most of it.

"We've had a good few days of training since we arrived back in Sigulda on Friday and the aim now is to start the season strongly."

Deas won her first World Cup medal in three years last February with bronze in Calgary and Pittaway's best finish in eight starts on the sport's top-level global circuit is ninth.

The suspension of IBSF ranking points - that will determine quota places at the 2022 Beijing Olympics - has led British Skeleton to decide to spread World Cup opportunities around athletes that would otherwise have been restricted to the Intercontinental and Europa Cups.

"The freezing of the ranking system means we're able to approach the season in a new way," said performance director Natalie Dunman.

"While we obviously want to do as well as we can this year, our ultimate aim is the 2022 Olympics in Beijing and then the 2026 Games in Milan Cortina.

"Others will be given the chance to maximise their development by experiencing a wide variety of tracks and top-level competition early in their careers."

There will be no British bobsleigh representation in Sigulda with Brad Hall ruled out with a lower leg injury.

In men's skeleton, Craig Thompson, Matt Weston and Marcus Wyatt will all hope to build on last season's personal bests.

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