A trio of Canadians slid into the top-15 in the women’s and men’s skeleton competitions at the BMW IBSF World Championships on Friday in Whistler, B.C.
Elisabeth Maier (Calgary) was the top Canuck on the women’s side in 10th place. Her teammate, Mirela Rahneva of Ottawa, placed 12th. Dave Greszczyszyn (Brampton, Ont.) took advantage of a strong final day to finish 11th in men’s action.
The 24-year-old Maier scrapped her way back into the top-10 after clocking the 13th-fastest time in her opening blast down the 1,694-metre track. Maier posted a four-run time of 3:35.83.
“I didn’t put the runs down I needed too in order to be on that podium,” said Maier. “Obviously it is disappointing being that this is our home track. I had a podium in mind coming into this so to finish 10th is disappointing and a far cry from what I was hoping for.”
The Germans swept the women’s podium. Tina Hermann was crowned the queen of skeleton for 2019, finishing with a winning time of 3:33.03. Jacqueline Loelling set a track record at 53.10 in the final run to secure the silver medal at 3:33.41. Sophia Griebel joined in the German medal celebration, clocking-in at 3:34.20.
“The Germans are very, very strong. I didn’t take that for granted and I knew it would be a tough battle,” said Maier, who opened the season with a silver medal performance at a World Cup in Latvia.
“I came out strong with a medal in that first race. It has been a huge emotional battle and a journey, but I learned a lot about myself. I have to regroup and focus on next year.”
Maier’s teammate, Mirela Rahneva, will also be looking to write a different story at next year’s World Championships. Looking to build off a third-place overall finish on the World Cup for the second time of her career, Rahneva slid short of her goals, and will leave Whistler disappointed with a 12th-place result. A winner of two World Cup races in the last month, Rahneva posted a four-run time of 3:36.50.
Calgary’s Madison Charney rounded out the Canadian women’s skeleton contingent in 17th. Competing in her first World Championships, Charney put down a strong third run to get her into the top-15, but was not able to hold her spot after a challenging final trip down the Olympic track. Charney finished with a time of 3:37.71.
It was a similar story in the men’s race for the Canadians.
Earlier in the day, Dave Greszczyszyn bounced back after a difficult opening day to put down his two best runs of the week and climb six spots into 11th.
The 39-year-old clocked the fifth and seventh-fastest times on the 16-corner track Friday morning to chalk up a four-run time of 3:30.41.
“I tried to be a bit more relaxed today. I felt comfortable and the ice was harder and a bit more in my favour,” said Greszczyszyn. “I had one really good run (third heat) and one not bad. I had an okay push today and from corner one through 16 I was almost spot on.”
Starting the final two heats on the second day in 17th, the Brampton, Ont. native, rocketed to speeds of 145-kilometre down Blackcomb Mountain.
“I changed my set up and went with a different pair of runners,” said Greszczyszyn. “I wish I would have done that yesterday. One day too late. You need four good runs against these guys.”
Greszczyszyn was the lone Canadian to qualify for the final heat with the quickest 20 athletes in the first three runs held over two days.
Mark Lynch, of St. John’s, Nfld. finished 23rd in his first-ever World Championships.
Latvia’s Martins Dukurs was crowned World Champion in the men’s skeleton race. Dukurs posted the fastest down time in all four heats, finishing with a golden time of 3:28.11.
Russia’s Nikita Tregubov saved his best run for last to secure the silver medal with a time of 3:28.62.
Korea’s Sungbin Yun also took advantage of a strong final day to clock a four-run, bronze-medal time of 3:28.99.