LAKE PLACID, N.Y.— Elisabeth Vathje and the Canadian skeleton women put a silver stamp on start of the Olympic season at the World Cup skeleton opener in Lake Placid, N.Y. on Thursday morning.
The 23-year-old Vathje led a trio of Canucks into the top-seven with her second-place result.
The Calgarian put together solid starts with lightening-quick speed down the 1,455-metre icy chute which winds down Mount Hoeveenberg in the Adirondacks to clock a two-run time of 1:50.39 for her seventh career podium finish on the elite skeleton circuit.
“It feels great. It was a great feeling to have my start back and I’m in much better form. Everything was very encouraging. I made some mistakes, but I was able to get down the track fast,” said Vathje.
Vathje has had good vibes on Mount Hoevenberg. Her World Cup career began four years ago at the start of this Olympic quadrennial with a silver medal in her first career World Cup race in Lake Placid. The breakthrough propelled her to three World Cup victories and a trio of silvers in addition to a World Championship bronze medal that is included on her resume from the 2015 season.
“Lake Placid is a really cool track. It is super different than all of the others and it feels like you are in a washing machine when you go down,” said Vathje. “I never thought that first race I would be on the podium and I had no idea where I was going to be this week. I just wanted to go fast on the start and let it fly.”
Austria’s Janine Flock captured the first gold medal of the season with a time of 1:50.13. Lizzy Yarnold, of Great Britain, was third at 1:50.46.
Vajthe wasn’t the only Canadian making their mark on opening day to the 2017-18 race season.
North Vancouver’s Jane Channell matched her best result in Lake Placid with the third, sixth-place finish of her career. In 13th spot after her first rip down the track the 29-year-old Channell catapulted into sixth place after putting down the fastest second-run time at 55.09 for a combined time of 1:50.73.
“There a couple of key mistakes that I made (early) in the first run that cost me my speed down the track. Heading into the second run, I was able to shake off the nerves of the first race. I knew what I had to do and was able to execute,” said Channell, who struggled last year to find her top form.
“I really needed that run. Last year was such a difficult year for me. Coming into this season, I knew I could do it, but being able to execute is something special and different. Now that I’ve done it, I know I can do it. That final run was a game changer.”
Ottawa’s Mirela Rahneva, who had a bronze-medal finish in Lake Placid one year ago, clocked a time of 1:50.74 for seventh place.
“This is a great start to the year for our entire team,” added Vathje. “It is super exciting to have all three of us girls in the top-seven. It will be interesting to see where this takes us this year.”
The World Cup continues on Thursday in Lake Placid with the women’s bobsleigh and first of two men’s two-man bobsleigh races. Men’s skeleton and the second men’s two-man bobsleigh race are slated for Friday.
Top-Five Women’s and Canadian Results:
- Janine Flock, AUT, 1:50.13; 2. Elisabeth Vathje, Calgary, CAN, 1:50.39; 3. Lizzy Yarnold, GBR, 1:50.46; 4. Elena Nikitina, RUS, 1:50.48; 5. Laura Deas, GBR, 1:50.69
Other Canadian Results:
- Jane Channell, North Vancouver, 1:50.73; 7. Mirela Rahneva, Ottawa, 1:50.74