October 30, 2103, CALGARY (ISN) —Canada will field an experienced team of bobsleigh and skeleton athletes loaded with international medals for the critical Olympic season, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton announced on Tuesday.
With just 100 days remaining until the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, the governing body named 12 athletes to the Canadian Skeleton Team, and 15 athletes that will hop into one of five bobsleighs when the World Cup circuit kicks off in Calgary, November 24-30, 2013. Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton will add four spares to the Canadian Bobsleigh Team later this month.
Of the 27 athletes representing Canada in the two sports, eight have Olympic medals, 10 have World Championship medals, while 17 have reached the World Cup podium throughout their career.
“This is arguably one of the strongest amateur sports teams in the country with our athletes having combined to win nearly 250 international medals over the last three Olympic quadrennials,” said Don Wilson, chief executive officer, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton. “We have an extremely deep program led by a number of veterans that have delivered under the most intense pressure. This group will continue to push each over the next four months, with the ultimate goal of standing on top of the podium in Sochi in February.”
Calgary’s Sarah Reid, who is coming off a stellar campaign that was capped off with a bronze medal at the 2013 World Championships, will lead a talented group of skeleton athletes. The 26-year-old Reid will be joined by Cassie Hawrysh, of Brandon, Man., and Calgary’s 21-year-old Robynne Thompson. Hawrysh, 29, led all Canadian athletes during the team’s selection races this fall, while Thompson, who is the only Canadian other than Sarah Reid to win the Junior World Skeleton Championships, earned the final spot on the Canadian squad.
Canada’s most consistent male skeleton athlete over the last three years – Eric Neilson, of Kelowna, B.C., will continue his quest for the international podium. Neilson will be joined by Calgary-based World Cup veteran, John Fairbairn and Dave Greszczyszyn, also of Calgary, who will make his World Cup debut.
Olympic medallists, Mellisa Hollingsworth and Jon Montgomery, will begin the opening two races of the 2013-14 season on the Intercontinental Cup circuit. Jane Channell and Patrick Rooney – Canada’s first two products of the Whistler Sliding Centre – also cracked Canada’s Intercontinental squad. Calgarians Jaclyn Laberge and Greg Rafter rounded out the skeleton squad.
Canada’s skeleton athletes have the opportunity to qualify for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games while competing on both the World Cup and Intercontinental Cup circuits. Athletes need either four top-six finishes on the World Cup or four wins on the Intercontinental Cup (or any combination of both) to be considered for selection to the Olympic Team. One of those results must be during the 2013-14 season. Reid, Hollingsworth and Neilson all met their qualification requirements last season. Hawrysh also grabbed two Olympic qualifiers last year, while Montgomery snagged one.
Meanwhile, in bobsleigh, Canada will send five Eurotech sleds to the start line when the FIBT World Cup begins in Calgary in less than four weeks time.
Calgary’s Kaillie Humphries will reunite with Olympic gold medal-winning brakeman, Heather Moyse of Summerside, P.E.I., for the first time in three years in the Canada 1 sled. The 26-year-old Humphries, who brings a medal-winning streak of 13 straight podium finishes that includes 11 victories and two World Championship titles into the Olympic year, will look to continue her historic run with the powerful Moyse. The 35-year-old, two-time Olympian, has shattered personal best start times, not to mention the start record at the Whistler Sliding Centre during selection races, since rejoining the program this fall.
Edmonton’s Jenny Ciochetti will pilot the Canada 2 women’s sled. Ciochetti, 28, who slid to a personal best sixth place at the World Cup in Sochi, Russia last year, will look for her first podium with one of five women still remaining in the selection process including Chelsea Valois, of Zenon Park, Sask. Valois made history herself last year – becoming the first athlete in the world to finish on the podium in each of her first 10 starts on the international circuit.
Canada brings a sled full of medals to the men’s bobsleigh races this year. Olympic and World Championship medallist, Lyndon Rush, of Humboldt, Sask., will pilot the Canada 1 crew consisting of: two-time Olympic medallist, Lascelles Brown of Calgary; along with Edmontonians, David Bissett and Neville Wright.
One of Canada’s newest citizens, Calgary’s Chris Spring, will welcome Jesse Lumsden, of Burlington, Ont., into his two- and four-man sleds this fall. The Calgary-based duo will join forces with two medal-winning athletes – Ottawa’s Cody Sorensen, and Ben Coakwell, of Saskatoon.
Justin Kripps, of Summerland, B.C., will drive the Canada 3 sled on the track to Sochi. Kripps’ crew will include Toronto’s Tim Randall, James MacNaughton, of Newmarket, Ont., and Graeme Rinholm, of Medicine Hat, Alta.
The athletes are looking to build nationwide excitement leading into Sochi. Letting their sleds do the talking when they hit the ice at Canada Olympic Park, November 24-30, to compete against their international foes at the World Cup races presented by new title sponsor, The Globe and Mail. This year’s event is not to be missed as it will give Canadians a final preview of the national and international athletes who will be vying for gold in Sochi.
Calgary’s World Cup organizers have revamped the events surrounding the races for the fans and supporters who come out to cheer on the Canadian squad. The first World Cup on the 2013-14 IBSF calendar will include activities for all ages including a highly-anticipated international push competition, games and activities for kids, entertainment, prizes, beer gardens, athlete autograph sessions and so much more.
“This is an exciting opportunity for Canadians to get a preview here in our own backyard of the action the world will watch in February when these same athletes compete in Sochi,” said Lee Genier, chairman of the Calgary World Cup Organizing Committee. “We have added to the off-track experience to make sure this is a welcoming, family- and spectator-friendly World Cup that shows off our Western hospitality, while demonstrating our continued support of the sports of bobsleigh and skeleton here in Canada.”
Tickets, which cost $19.99 for a 2-day pass, are on sale now and available at Calgary Safeway locations, Canada Olympic Park Guest Services, through local schools and online at bobsleighcanadaskeleton.ca. Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton is also pleased to be working with KidsUpFront, providing tickets to 500 local children to come out and experience the excitement of both sports. With attendance numbers estimated to be in the thousands, fans are encouraged to secure tickets before they sell out.
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 – Adidas, Eurotech – Viking Engineering, BMW Canada, The Globe and Mail, Conceptum Sport Logistics, Therapeutica – along with the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, and SAIT Polytechnic. Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton develops Olympic and world champions. Please visit us at www.bobsleighcanadaskeleton.ca.