IGLS, Aut.—Canada’s Mirela Rahneva continued her sizzling season on the World Cup skeleton circuit, winning the silver medal on Friday in Igls, Austria.
Leading after the first run on the Igls track, Rahneva dropped one spot into second place in her final rip down relatively flat 1,478-metre chute, clocking a time of 1:48.31.
“I keep surprising myself. I always aim high, but I never would have thought I would be able to accomplish this much this year,” said Rahneva, who was sliding in Igls for the first time in her career. “This track is really tricky. You can have really good runs and your time is not competitive at all. The fastest run I had was my first run this week where you are just exploring the track.
“I told myself in my final run of official training to take it back to that run, be intuitive, and not care so much about nailing the perfect entrance into the corners and just let the sled run.”
It was the fourth medal for the 28-year-old rookie on the skeleton World Cup circuit. A regular in the top-five all year, the former wedding planner from Ottawa also has a gold and two bronze in just seven World Cup events this season.
“I think setting my goals high was important this year. Winning the bronze medal in Lake Placid was important, but then when I won in St. Moritz it was such a huge confidence boost for me, and showed me I can do this,” added Rahneva.
Germany’s Tina Hermann topped the Canadian with a golden time of 1:48.15. Austria’s Janine Flock was third at 1:48.39.
With Rahneva leading the charge, the Canadian skeleton women are on fire heading into the World Championships set for Konigssee, Germany on February 25.
All three Canucks slid into the top-six on Friday for the first time in nearly five years.
Calgary’s Elisabeth Vathje, who has two wins herself this year was fifth at 1:48.55. North Vancouver’s Jane Channell is rounding into top form with the premiere race on the calendar just around the corner. Channell, who was third overall on the World Cup one year ago, posted her best result of the season, finishing sixth with a time of 1:48.65.
“It is a crazy good feeling to know we are all right there and I truly believe we can have a clean sweep of the podium on the right day,” said Rahneva. “As much as it is an individual sport, we are a team.”
Canada had once been a international powerhouse in skeleton since it made its return to the Olympics in 2002, regularly dominating the podium.
Canada’s speed queens are reliving the glory days for the program. It was the first time since 2012 three Canadians were in the top-six of a World Cup race when Sarah Reid, Cassie Hawrysh and Mellisa Hollingsworth filled the top five in Whistler.
“It takes a while to get on the World Cup Team, but when you finally get there in the Canadian program you know you have done good and deserve your spot because we do have a lot of depth. We all want to beat each other, but having that competitive edge between us, pushes us to perform well on the world stage,” added Rahneva.
Meanwhile, Calgary’s Barrett Martineau was the lone Canadian to qualify for the second run of the men’s race where he finished 17th at 1:46.39. Edmonton’s Kevin Boyer finished 22nd, while Dave Greszczyszyn placed 25th. Only the top-20 qualify for the second run.
Latvia’s Martins Dukurs won the men’s race with a time of 1:43.89. Alexander Tretiakov was second at 1:44.47, while Korea’s Sungbin Yun snagged the bronze with a time of 1:44.57.
The World Cup continues on Saturday with the two-man and women’s bobsleigh races.