Canada’s Sliding Sport Women Own the Podium at Whistler World Cup

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Chris Dornan

WHISTLER, B.C.—Canada’s skeleton and bobsleigh women stormed the podium at the Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup in Whistler, B.C. on Thursday evening.

Mellisa Hollingsworth slid to the top step of the podium in the women’s skeleton race. Kaillie Humphries and Emily Baadsvik continued Canada’s golden trail in the women’s bobsleigh event where Helen Upperton and Shelley-Ann Brown also teamed up to win the bronze.

Canada’s medal-winning evening began with Hollingsworth finally slaying the dragon on a track that has plagued her for two years by winning gold.

“It’s a super emotional day,” beamed Hollingsworth minutes after her near perfect performance on the Whistler Olympic track. I had to lay this to rest and win this. It’s got to stop haunting me. I think it was one step last year of being on the podium (winning silver) and showing I can be consistent and now it’s showing that this is my home track and I can slide the fastest here. Today was redemption and a sense of relief.”

Days removed from the second anniversary of when the 31-year-old Eckville, Alta. native experienced a heart-breaking defeat at the Olympic Games, dropping from second to fifth following a skid on herfinal run, the ghosts of 2010 began circling the start house at the top of the 1,450-metre 16-corner track during the second heat where Hollingsworth was slated to be the final sled down after clocking the fastest opening run at 55.09.

“As I was warming up, it felt eerie because it was the same month, same setting sun and same place after the second run asthat day in 2010 with the opportunity to be on the podium and win the gold medal.”

“A lot of people would be dying to be in this position. I appreciate being in the number onespot going into (run) number two. I know I’m my own worst enemy. The number one word in front of my head was respect, respect for this track and it was me and my sled.”

Hollingsworth respectfully speared the dragon, clocking a golden time of 1:49.79 to chalk up the seventh World Cup victory and 31st medal in her 17-year career, moving her into third spot in the Overall World Cup standings with one race remaining in Calgary next week.

“The first (victory) is huge, but this is the biggest one of my career,” said Hollingsworth, who also has an Olympic bronze and two World Championship medals. “It is a couple of years late, but that doesn’t mean it is not going to help me moving forward towards Sochi.”

Australia’s Lucy Chaffer slid to the silver medal at 1:49.96, while Shelley Rudman, of Great Britain claimed the bronze with a time of 1:50.36.

Two other Canadian women also enjoyed a solid race in their final preparations for the 2012 World Championships. Calgary’s 24-year-old Sarah Reid posted hersecond-best World Cup finish in sixth at 1:50.55. Amy Gough, of Abbotsford,B.C., placed seventh with a time of 1:50.60.

The memories of the 2010 Olympics continued into the women’s bobsleigh race where Canada’s Kaillie Humphries and Helen Upperton drove the top-two Canadian sleds onto the podium.

Calgary’s 26-year-old Humphries, who dominated the Whistler track to win Olympic gold two years ago, teamed up with 28-year-old Emily Baadsvik, of St. Stephen, N.B., to capture her third World Cup victory after clocking a two-run time of 1:46.68.

“It definitely feels good to get the gold,” said Humphries, who finished third at the World Cup in Whistler last season. “I made a mistake in corner 7 and 8 last year and in all honesty I was saying ‘just don’t happen again.’ I learned my lesson and it worked out tonight.”

It was the 11th World Cup medal of Humphries’ career as a pilot.

Calgary’s Helen Upperton reunited with her Olympic silver-medal winning teammate, Shelley-Ann Brown of Pickering, Ont., to win her 19th World Cup medal after claiming the bronze in her first event of the season. The Canadian duo clocked a combined time of 1:47.09.

“It is bit of a weird start to the season to have my first race in February, but was certainly fun to be back and get on the podium,” said Upperton, who planned to take a one-year hiatus from the sport before deciding to compete in the two Canadian stops on the World Cup for ashot at a World Championship medal – the only piece of bobsleigh hardware that remains vacant on her mantle – at the 2012 World Championships in Lake Placid.

“Shelley and I love this place and were really excited to be here racing again.”

The Germany 2 sled of Sandra Kiriasis andBerit Wiacker were sandwiched between the two Canadians on the podium with asecond-place time of 1:46.76.

“Anytime you can have two Canadian athletes on the podium it is always great for ourprogram so I’m really happy with how we did here,” added Humphries.”

Edmonton’s Jenny Ciochetti and Montreal’s Marquise Brisebois teamed up in the Canada 3 sled for their first career World Cup, finishing 12th at 1:48.86.

Canadians can catch high-speed World Cup men’s bobsleigh and skeleton action from the Whistler Sliding Centre live on Sportsnet Friday at 7:30 p.m. EST and the men’s four-man bobsleigh race on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. EST.

Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton is a non-profit organization and the national governing body for the sports of bobsleigh and skeleton in Canada. With the support of its valued corporate partners – VISA, Dow Chemical, Adidas, KBC Helmets, Eurotech – Viking Engineering, SAIT Polytechnic, Therapeutica – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee and Own the Podium, Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton develops Olympic and world champions. Please visit us at www.bobsleighcanadaskeleton.ca.

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