Canada’s Vathje, Rahneva win skeleton gold and bronze at Winterberg World Cup

Canada wins skeleton gold and bronze

WINTERBERG, Germany — Calgary’s Elisabeth Vathje and Ottawa’s Mirela Rahneva won gold and bronze respectively on Sunday at a skeleton World Cup event in Winterberg, Germany.

Vathje slid to a golden time of 58.02, while Rahneva clocked-in at 58.14 for the bronze in the weather-shortened one-run race. Germany’s Jacqueline Loelling was second at 58.12.

“It is pretty cool and surreal to be back on top of the podium,” said Vathje. “I love coming to Winterberg and have always enjoyed this track. I had an inkling that I could win here today, even though Jacqueline (Lolling) is incredible on this track. We always have a great battle here.”

It is the second podium for the hard-working Rahneva in just her fourth race. Her first podium in Europe, she also slid to the bronze at a World Cup stop in Lake Placid, N.Y., just prior to the holiday break.

“I had a rough week in Altenberg, but I knew it was important to stay strong and positive. It was nice to come here and do well,” said Rahneva. “I must have visualized 100 runs this week and continuously practised laying on my sled. To be able to materialize it on the track is a great feeling.”

North Vancouver’s Jane Channell finished in 12th at 58.86 despite putting down the fastest start time in the field.

It was the first time in four years that two Canadian skeleton athletes shared the World Cup podium. The last two Canadians to reach the podium together were Sarah Reid and Mellisa Hollingsworth when they finished one-two in Lake Placid during the 2012-13 season.

“It’s awesome to have two of us on the podium and really shows the depth of our program,” said Vathje. “I really hope we can get Jane up there on the podium with us. All three of us are forces to be reckoned with. We love this sport and our country so much so it is awesome to show our depth.”

The race was originally stopped due to heavy snow after the first seven sleds went down the track. Officials planned to call the race off, but after a lengthy delay, the weather cleared, and a one-run race was re-started from scratch.

The Canadian Press