MELKSHAM-BASED star Laura Deas hopes to use the impending skeleton World Cup season to fine tune her sliding ahead of next year’s Winter Olympics.

The 29-year-old was this week confirmed in Great Britain’s women’s squad for the initial races in the World Cup series, which starts at Lake Placid in the United States early next month.

Deas, who finished 10th in February’s World Championships, joins reigning Olympic champion Lizzy Yarnold and Youth Olympic champion, Ashleigh Pittaway in the three-strong women’s team.

With the 2018 Winter Olympics looming large in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next February, Deas is eager to use the World Cup races as a springboard into the Games.

“In terms of the World Cups, as long as I am using each race to learn something and be better than I was before, they will serve their purpose,” said Deas, who will make her Winter Olympic bow should she earn a place in the GB team in South Korea.

“Obviously I would like to podium in those races but really the only one that matters is the Olympics and I really want to win a medal at the Games and I think I can do that, so that’s my long-term focus.

“Every time I have an opportunity to go out and slide and learn and race, it is always a good thing.”

The World Cup season kicks off on November 9 in Lake Placid in New York State, before moving west across America to Park City and then on to Whistler in Canada.

After returning from America in the last week of November, the team begin their European leg of the season with World Cup 4 in Winterberg on December 9.

They race once more before Christmas in Innsbruck, before heading to Altenberg, St Moritz and Konigssee prior to February’s Winter Olympics.

GB Skeleton’s head of performance Danny Holdcroft said: “The selection races were really competitive all round and that’s exactly what we want to see in an Olympic season.

“The strength in depth in the programme is something we’re really proud of and we have genuine medal contenders on all the international circuits.

“Lizzy, Laura and Dom (Parsons, Britain’s top male slider) have been in the mix for medals for a number of years now, while Ashleigh has already been on the podium in ICC and EC (Europa Cup) races despite being just 17 years old.

“Having the Olympics on the horizon is a massive incentive for the squad and you can already see how much it means to them all.

“It’s the pinnacle of our sport and I’m pleased to say that we are in a really good place as we get ever closer to the Games.”