Olympic Medallists Claim Titles at Visa Bobsleigh and Skeleton Canadian Championships
November 6, 2010
CALGARY—A group of Olympic medallists slid to the top of the podium at the Visa Bobsleigh and Skeleton Canadian Championships this weekend in Calgary.
Olympic silver medallist, Helen Upperton, captured the gold medal in the women’s race, while Lyndon Rush, of Humboldt, Sask., who made history last winter becoming the first Canadian male in more than 40 years to medal in the four-man Olympic race when he was third, took the top spot on the podium in the men’s two- and four-man races. Jon Montgomery and Mellisa Hollingsworth won the men’s and women’s skeleton disciplines.
Racing in her first Canadian Championships in nearly four years, Calgary’s Helen Upperton teamed up with Olympic mate, Shelley-Ann Brown of Pickering, Ont., to clock a two-run winning time of 1:55.68.
“I haven’t been able to race in Canadians for a few years so it was nice to compete with all of my teammates before we head off on our respective tours,” said Upperton. “I really wish Kaillie (Humphries) would have been there to compete. She has really pushed me over the last few years and it would have made the race even more exciting for all the girls to have the Olympic gold medallist there.”
With Humphries not on the start line, the door was open for a number of younger pilots to charge for the podium. Calgary’s Melissa These drove to the silver at 1:55.81, while Upperton’s former brakeman, Jenny Ciochetti of Edmonton, slid to the bronze medal at 1:58.06.
“It meant a lot to Shelley and I to see how awesome our former teammate, Jenny, did winning the bronze in her first national championships and rebound after such a tough season last year,” said Upperton. “We are anxious to now announce our World Cup Team and everyone is excited to head out and win more medals for Canada.”
In the men’s race, it was Lyndon Rush who ran away with titles in both the two- and four-man events. Rush, who had a breakthrough season last year winning his first World Cup race in both disciplines to go along with his Olympic bronze medal won the men’s two-man race after posting times of 55.83 and 55.94. Calgary’s Adam Anderson was second and Chris Spring, of Australia, was third in the men’s two-man.
Canada’s skeleton athletes took centre stage on Saturday in what always goes down as one of the most competitive races of the season.
Canada’s golden boy, Jon Montgomery of Russell, Man., pushed a personal best start time to capture the men’s national crown after clocking a two-run time of 1:53.03.
“This was a great start to the season pushing a personal best and I’m content with my sliding,” said Montgomery, who stole the hearts of the nation after winning gold and chugging a jug of beer while walking down the Whistler Village stroll minutes after his race. “There is always room for improvement, but I had a good nervous energy at the line on the first run which means I’ve still got that competitive drive in me. The day I don’t is the day I hang up the spikes, but right now it is good and I’m looking forward to the season.”
Montgomery was joined on the podium by Calgarians Eric Neilson and Jon Fairbairn. Neilson claimed the silver medal with a time of 1:53:49, while Fairbairn slid to a combined 1:53.82.
Canada’s first-ever Olympic medallist in the sport of skeleton, Mellisa Hollingsworth of Eckville, Alta., who won the bronze in 2006, handily slid to the 2010 title. In her first race since walking off the track at the 2010 Olympics where she finished a heart-breaking fifth, the 2010 Overall World Cup titleholder clocked a combined time of 1:55.61.
“I was really happy because I was on an altered training plan and didn’t know where I would stand today,” said Hollingsworth. “This was a very important race for me to bounce back from last year. We spent three weeks on the Calgary track preparing for today so anything could happen. It is nice to have this race under my belt. Our national championships is always a very competitive race. It was really tight today, but this is great preparation for the World Cup.”
Four other women are fighting for the final two spots on the women’s World Cup team. Amy Gough, of Abbotsford, B.C., and Calgary’s Sarah Reid have an early advantage after the first of three selection races, with the next two going back-to-back in Whistler next week.
Gough claimed the silver with a time of 1:56.54, while Reid rounded out the women’s podium in third at 1:56.94.
Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton will name its 2010 World Cup squads at a media conference in Vancouver on November 18. The World Cup season gets underway at the 2010 Olympic venue in Whistler, November 22-28.
Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton is a non-profit organization and the national governing body for the sports of bobsleigh and skeleton in Canada. With the support of its valued corporate partners - VISA, Dow Chemical, Adidas, Schenker Canada - along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee and Own the Podium, Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton develops Olympic and world champions. Please visit us at www.bobsleighcanadaskeleton.ca