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November 17, 2012, PARK CITY, Utah (ISN) — Canadian skeleton rookie, Cassie Hawrysh, showed she is ready to contend with the big girls on the elite circuit after finishing fourth in just the second World Cup race of her career.

The 27-year-old Hawrysh, of Brandon, Man., clocked the fourth-fastest run in both heats (50.58 and 50.69) for a combined time of 1:41.27 on the 1,340-metre Park City track that played host to the sport’s Olympic debut at the 2002 Winter Games.

“Finishing fourth for me in just my second race is great so not getting on the podium doesn’t matter at this point,” said Hawrysh, who was 11th last week in Lake Placid. “I was in the mix in training this week, but training is training and you just never know on race day. I was really pleased with how it went.”

Hawrysh, who has competed on the Park City track over the last two years on the America’s Cup circuit, may have had a slight advantage on the elite field, who have not raced the track since 2010.

“Doing the North American tracks first this year is a huge advantage for me,” said Hawrysh. “This was the first track I did without a school before it <in 2010> and it destroyed me. The next time I came here I won both <America’s Cup> races so I was comfortable coming here.”

Katie Uhlaender, of the United States, was also on familiar ground. The veteran of the American squad took full advantage of sliding on home ice to win the gold with a time of 1:40.93. Elizabeth Yarnold, of Great Britain, was second at 1:40.94, while Germany’s Anja Huber posted the second fastest run at 50.55 in the final heat to grab the bronze medal with a time a time of 1:41.21.

Two-time overall World Cup champion, Mellisa Hollingsworth of Eckville, Alta., had atough day dropping to seventh at 1:41.72 after winning the silver medal oneweek ago at the season-opener in Lake Placid, N.Y. Calgary’s Sarah Reid, who won her first-ever World Cup medal and race last week, finished in a tie for 11th spot at 1:42.02.

Hawrsyh, a gifted varsity athlete who played volleyball at the University of Windsor and ran track at the University of Regina, stumbled her way into the sport of skeleton after making a spontaneous move to Calgary in 2009.

She headed to the start line for one America’s Cup race at the end of the 2009 season before she took the competitive skeleton development world in the palm of her hand. Hawrysh won 10 medals in 11 starts in 2011-12 while competing on the America’s Cup and Europa Cup circuits.

She skipped the next stage of her development, which would have been on the Intercontinental Cup circuit this year, when she earned a spot on Canada’s World Cup squad this fall.

“It is really incredible for me,” said Hawrysh. “With my athletic past everything is just piecing itself together like a puzzle. The way I felt when I started this sport, I just knew it was right for me.

“You are just always reaching for that opportunity to put Canada on your back, and Iknow this is a huge opportunity for me which I don’t take it for granted. I have incredible teammates in Mellisa (Hollingsworth) and Sarah (Reid) that I look up too and I am learning so much from them every day, but we need to keep things in perspective. Finishing fourth is great, but the amount that still needs to happen is expediential. That’s what I like about this.”

While managing expectations, the Canadian coaching staff recognizes her potential.

“I am a little surprised at her success this early, but any one of the coaches would have told you last year that her technique has great potential. But we alsoknew she needed the strength,” said Duff Gibson, head coach, Canadian Skeleton Team. “Working with Kelly Forbes to build strength over the summer she has come a long way. Cassie is a great driver, and today she made a mistake going from corner 11 to 12 on both runs. She was essentially one corner away from being in the medals. This result shows her that if she drives well she can be on thepodium.”

A replayof the women’s skeleton race can be viewed on Sportsnet ONE on November 18 at 4 p.m. EST, and again on November 19 at 6 a.m. EST.

The men’s skeleton race will be held on Saturday in Park City, Utah, before the team heads north to host the third stop of the tour at the Whistler Sliding Centre, November 23-24, 2012.

Complete Results:

Top-Five Women’s Skeleton Results:

  1. Katie Uhlaender, USA, 1:40.93
  2. Elizabeth Yarnold, GBR, 1:40.94
  3. Anja Huber, GER, 1:41.21
  4. Cassie Hawrysh, Brandon, Man., 1:41.27
  5. ShelleyRudman, GBR, 1:41.50
  6. Marion Thees, GER, 1:41.50.

Other Canadian Results:

7. Mellisa Hollingsworth, Eckville, Alta., 1:41.72

T11. Sarah Reid, Calgary, 1:42.02