(ISN) – ST.MORITZ, Sui.—Canada’s Elisabeth Vathje etched her name amongst skeleton royalty that have slid onto the World Cup podium at the birthplace of the sport in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
The 20-year-old Calgarian, who shocked the world by winning a silver and gold medal prior to the holiday break, turned heads again on Friday, after sliding to second spot with a time of 2:20.42 on the only natural non-refrigerated track in the world.
“It is truly amazing. I’m coming off a neck strain (suffered during training in Altenberg), and was cleared to be able to slide so I am so excited to come out of here with a silver medal,” said Vathje. “My equipment was a huge key today, and having my entire coaching team of Richard Bromley, Charles Wlodarzack, and Ivo Palkans at this race was truly a difference maker.”
Sitting in fourth spot after her first bomb down the 1,700-metres of natural stunning beauty that winds its way to the finish in the town of Celerina, Vathje clocked a new track record at 1.09.90.
“It is an incredible experience in St. Moritz,” said Vathje. “It’s like sliding on ‘unicorn farts.’ It is really an indescribable feeling. This medal was what I needed. I had struggled so much in Altenberg and this gives me some peace knowing that I can slide and compete on European tracks.”
Austria’s Janine Flock won the race with a time of 2:20.34. Laura Deas, of Great Britain, placed third at 2:20.58.
It was a stellar day for the rest of the Canadian contingent with all three women’s World Cup rookies sliding into the top-10. Calgary’s 35-year-old Lanette Prediger posted a career-best fourth-place finish with a time of 2:20.58. Jane Channell, of North Vancouver, slid to seventh place at 2:21.12 despite driving over a tree branch that had fallen on the track during her second run.
The success continued for the Canucks into the men’s race. Calgary’s Evan Neufeldt matched the best result of the year for a Canadian male in eighth. The 27 year old put down the best result of his rookie season on the World Cup with a time of 2:18.24.
“I am stoked! I knew it was okay when I crossed the line, but I didn’t know if I maintained my spot,” said Neufeldt. “It is seriously a winter wonderland here and I couldn’t be happier with my first trip to St. Moritz.”
Latvia’s Martins Dukurs won the men’s race with a time of 2:16.17. Korea’s Sungbin Yun was second at 2:16.77, while Nikita Tregybov grabbed the bronze at 2:17.36.
Dave Greszczyszyn, of Brampton, Ont., was 13th at 2:18.56. Calgary’s Barrett Martineau placed 22nd.
Vathje joins an impressive list of Canadian skeleton athletes that have a long history of success in St. Moritz including Olympic medallists Duff Gibson, Jeff Pain, Mellisa Holllingsworth, along with Lindsay Alcock, Michelle Kelly, and Deanna Panting. In 2003, the Canadian women of Hollingsworth, Alcock, Kelly and Panting finished one through four.
The World Cup continues on Saturday in St. Moritz with the men’s and women’s bobsleigh races.