Kelowna’s Eric Neilson had the race of his life when it counted most, finishing fourth in the men’s skeleton race at the World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Sitting in ninth place after the first two runs on Friday, the 31-year-old Neilson made a charge for the podium in his final two blasts down the 1,700-metre chute of natural ice at the birthplace of the sport. Neilson stormed into fourth place and the best result of his career with a time of 4:35.01.
“That was a shocker. It feels really good,” said Neilson. “I didn’t think I could move up that much. I was really disappointed yesterday, but I just said to myself I was going to throw it down and see what happens.”
Russia’s Alexander Tretjyakov finished on top with a time of 4:32.35. Latvia’s Martins Dukurs was second at 4:32.38, while Russia’s Sergei Chudinov snagged the bronze medal at 4:34.62.
A legacy baby from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, the Rutland grad took a skeleton recruitment camp in 2006 for fun with a friend while attending university in Victoria. He earned a spot on the World Cup squad last season, is now on pace to slide into the Olympic stadium for the first time after knocking the door of international podium with two top-five finishes, and a handful of sixth-place results around the world.
“Last year I was really a crash and burn guy, I do feel a lot more comfortable with everything that comes with the World Cup this year,” said Neilson. “I need to be a little more consistent with my push and driving together if I want to breakthrough on the podium.
It is just going to take a bit more time and experience.”