WHISTLER, B.C.—Dave Greszczyszyn slid to his third consecutive men’s national skeleton title, while Elisabeth Vathje captured her first national championship victory on Wednesday at the Whistler Sliding Centre.
A substitute teacher with the Calgary Board of Education, the 36-year-old Greszczyszyn hopped onto his cafeteria tray on runners where he clocked the two fastest times of the day to win his third Canadian Championship title. The Brampton, Ont. native posted a combined time 1:49.02 on the 16-corner Olympic Track.
“It was nice to be back in Whistler to successfully finish off the season. I really enjoy sliding here on one of the best tracks on the Tour,” said Greszczyszyn, who had a career-best fifth place World Cup finish in Whistler earlier this year. “The volunteers and track crew did another great job. We were able to pull off some decent speeds and times with many athletes getting personal bests.”
Greszczyszyn’s World Cup comrade, Barrett Martineau, slid to the silver medal. The Calgarian, who finished ninth in the Overall World Cup standings this year, clocked a two-run time of 1:50.53.
Saskatoon’s Evan Neufeldt flip-flopped positions with Martineau in the final run to round out the men’s podium in third at 1:50.63.
“The group of us worked hard these past few weeks testing equipment and perfecting lines, getting us ready for next year’s selection races and international competitions,” added Greszczyszyn. “It was also a nice surprise to have some extra cheers during our starts. We had some members of the Canadian Armed Forces in attendance during the race. It’ll be fun to see them get a chance to try our sport and go down the track later tonight.”
Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton is holding a joint team building event with military personnel. Soldiers will get a rare opportunity to try skeleton and bobsleigh over the next two days. Canada’s sliding sport athletes will then be put through rigorous military training over a two-day period in April.
In the women’s race it was Calgary’s Elisabeth Vathje putting a golden stamp on a challenging season by winning her first Canadian Championship crown.
The 22-year-old Vathje, who took the skeleton world by surprise one year ago by capturing one gold and three silver medals on the World Cup before capping the season off with a bronze at World Championships, posted the time to beat at 1:52.19.
“This season has been really tricky, and a lot of learning,” said Vathje, who was sixth at World Championships. “Whistler and I have never really been friends, and finally this last few weeks I’ve been able to make some breakthroughs. It’s been nice working with the development athletes, and seeing some of them breakthrough as well. It’s encouraging for our program.”
Vathje clocked the third-fastest time in her opening run, but stormed to the top of the top with the fastest second trip down the track at 56.12.
Two Calgarians slid to the final two spots on the women’s podium. Jaclyn Laberge won the race for the silver medal at 1:52.54. Lanette Prediger put down the second-fastest final run to grab the final spot on the podium in third at 1:52.54.