Lizzy Yarnold has turned up the volume in her condemnation of Russian doping cheats on the eve of her Olympic skeleton title defence.

Yarnold will carry the flag in today’s opening ceremony in PyeongChang before she attempts to become the first Brit to defend a Winter Olympic title next week.

However, in between the talk of privilege and pride about carrying the flag, she made her feelings known about rival Elena Nikitina.

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Four years ago they shared a podium in Sochi but the British slider claimed now she wouldn’t even share a glance.

Nikitina was stripped of her Olympic bronze by the International Olympic Committee after she was implicated in the Russian doping scandal.

She was banned and then reinstated by her sport’s world governing body and will find out today - just hours before the Games - whether the IOC’s decision to exclude her is enforceable.

She claims evidence was not sufficient and she’s currently waiting in a nearby hotel, hoping to snatch the British slider’s title.

“I enjoyed speaking with her in the past but if I see Elena now I look at the floor and carry on,” said Yarnold.

“I’ve worked too hard to be here to allow someone else to draw me into a situation that I don’t want to be in. My emotional state with certain Russian athletes is to have no emotion.

“It has been really challenging over the last few years knowing that there are doping issues in our sport. I absolutely believe in fair and clean competition and we will just have to see what the authorities decide.

“I believe the IOC were correct in not inviting them to compete in PyeongChang. But essentially it is me, my sled and the track so that is my focus.”

Yarnold has been an outspoken critic of Russian athletes, refusing to compete in last year’s World Championship unless it was switched from Sochi. But she’s stayed quiet for most of this season while Nikitina, under the threat of an Olympic ban, won races in Park City and Innsbruck.

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However, she insists she has no worries about the temperatures for the opening showpiece of the Games, which are expected to plummet to -23C.

PyeongChang is well known for its bitter winters and pounding winds that blow in from the Manchurian plains and Siberia.

When a test event was held in the Olympic Stadium - which has no roof - earlier this year, seven people were treated for hypothermia.

Heaters have now been installed and special packs will be distributed to spectators including blankets and coats. But a plan to offer hot drinks was overruled by sponsors Coca-Cola.

“I’m a winter sports athlete, I love the cold,” insisted Yarnold. “We’re really good at wearing layers and the team have given us a big coat.”

Yarnold, who also carried the flag at the closing ceremony in Sochi, insists she is happy to fly under the radar after a relatively unimpressive World Cup season that has featured just one podium performance.

Fourth place in the final race of the regular campaign in Koenigssee was encouraging but Great Britain teammate Laura Deas is arguably the bigger contender for a medal.

“Some athletes thrive in big moments and I am one of those, but it is quite nice to be the underdog sometimes, and to come to the Olympics after an up-and-down World Cup season.

“I believe it is realistic we can both be on the podium, it’s about being consistent over four runs but we’ve got every chance.

“It’s a really technical track, it’s my third visit here and I’m really starting to unpick it now. I’ve not listened to bookmakers and their odds. I think I know more about sport than them.”

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