Mirela Rahneva Leads Canadian Skeleton Charge in Fifth at Winterberg World Cup

Kevin Boyer bounces back into 14th place finish in men’s race

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Canadian Olympian Mirela Rahneva honours her late mom on skeleton helmet.

Olympian Mirela Rahneva bounced back after a difficult opening week on the World Cup skeleton circuit to chalk up a fifth-place finish in Winterberg, Germany on Friday.

 

The 30-year-old finished one place shy of matching her career best on the 15-corner track after clocking a two-run time of 1:56.13.

 

“This year we are trying new things with a new sled, and I’m starting to get a bit more comfortable with the changes. It was nice to get a little confidence back from a disappointing result in Sigulda (last week),” said Rahneva.

 

The Ottawa native was sitting in sixth place after her first rip down the 1,330 metre track. She climbed one spot in the standings after cleaning things up in her second descent where she posted the third fastest time in the final heat.

 

“Today’s second heat felt great. It was a nice throw down and I was really happy with it,” said Rahneva who was fourth in the same race last season.

 

Raheva proved once again she is one of the fastest starters on the planet, posting the second fastest push times in both heats behind only Russia’s Elena Nikitina.

 

The Germans slid to the top-two steps of the podium. Jacqueline Loelling was the top sled in both heats, winning the gold medal at 1:55.16. Tina Hermann moved up one spot in the podium standings in the final heat, finishing with a silver-medal time of 1:55.83. Austria’s Janine Flock snagged the bronze at 1:55.86.

 

Two other Canadians were in the top-10 at the midway point of the race but changing weather conditions and difficult second runs dropped them down the leaderboard. Struggling with finding the loading point in her push all week, North Vancouver’s Jane Channell fell from eighth to 11th at 1:56.69.  Calgary’s Elisabeth Maier was in a fight for the medals sitting in fifth spot after the first heat, but also battled through the second run and placed 12th (1:56.80).

 

Earlier in the day, Canada’s Kevin Boyer also had a bounce back day after a challenging World Cup opener in Latvia.

 

The 25-year-old Olympian from Sherwood Park, Alta. took advantage of good vibes on the Winterberg track to put down a 14th-place result.

 

“I was happy to be able to shrug off Sigulda, and refocus this week,” said Boyer. “I felt a lot more relaxed on the sled today and was able to let it run a bit more. I love Winterberg. This is probably my favourite track. It was the first European track I slid on and really have a good feeling for it –  I seem to gel here.”

 

Two consistent runs put Boyer in 14th spot in tight race, finishing with a combined time of 1:54.59.

 

“I made a couple of very little mistakes that cost me a hundredth here and there – especially with how close it was around me today with four sleds within a tenth of a second,” added Boyer. “My push hasn’t been up to my standards this year so that’s something I’ll evaluate over the break. My main focus now is to stay confident in my abilities and I know the results will come.”

 

Russia’s Alexander Tretiakov won the gold medal with a time of 1:52.07. Germany’s Axel Jungk was second at 1:52.90, while Korea’s Sungbin Yun rounded out the men’s podium in third for the second straight week, finishing with a time of 1:52.91.

 

Dave Greszczyszyn, of Brampton, Ont., did not qualify for the second run with the top-20 sleds, placing 21st.

 

The IBSF World Cup resumes on January 4 in Altenberg, Germany.

 

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