Canadians Own the Podium at Skeleton World Cup in Italy
December 4, 2009
CESANA, Ita.—Canada’s skeleton athletes slid to a hat trick of medals, and nearly had more, at a World Cup in Cesana, Italy on Friday.
Jon Montgomery captured the third gold medal of his career while teammate Jeff Pain slid to the bronze-medal step on the podium in the men’s race. Mellisa Hollingsworth completed Canada’s medal haul in the afternoon by winning the bronze in the women’s race.
The 30-year-old Montgomery, of Russell, Man., whose victory marked the seventh podium finish of his four-year World Cup career, clocked times of 57.62 and 57.92 for a two-run total of one minute 55.54 seconds.
“That one will do,” said Montgomery after completing his second run. “I had two really solid pushes and two really good runs and that is a feather in the cap to say I went out and won today rather than getting lucky.”
Montgomery, who also won the World Cup at the Whistler Sliding Centre last year, has had success sliding on the 19-curve, 1,435-metre track in Cesana, Italy. He slid to his first World Cup win in Cesana during his breakthrough 2007-08 season.
“This track is a lot of fun and you have to be active the whole time,” said Montgomery, who also has a World Championship silver medal from 2008 under his belt – the same year he finished second overall on the World Cup. “You have to be focused here from corner one to 19, and I just have confidence when I’m sliding here.”
Montgomery and the Canadian men nearly replicated their historic 2006 Olympic race on the Cesana track where they nearly swept the podium with Duff Gibson winning gold, Jeff Pain silver and Paul Boehm finishing fourth.
At Friday’s World Cup, the Canadians including Calgary’s Pain and Toronto’s Mike Douglas, were sitting one-two-three after the first run.
“This is definitely a great track for Canadians because we own a lot of medals from here so something definitely is working for us here,” said Pain, who finished third at the World Cup in Whistler last season. “I had a really solid first run and felt comfortable so I am really happy for sure.”
The 39-year-old Pain, who had the second fastest time in the opening heat at 57.72, held on to third spot with a time of 1:56.05 for his first podium finish of the year, while the 38-year-old Douglas posted his best-ever World Cup result with a fourth-place time of 1:56.15.
“This one gives me a lot of confidence and assures me that I belong and can challenge for the podium on the World Cup,” said Douglas, who won an Intercontinental Cup race in Cesana last year. “Everything just really came together for me today from the start so I hope this is a breakthrough that I can continue to challenge from here-on-in.”
World Cup leader, Martins Dukurs, of Latvia, climbed five spots after clocking the second-fastest time of 57.91 in the second heat to win the silver medal with a total time of 1:56.01.
Cesana has also been friendly territory for Canada’s skeleton Queen, Mellisa Hollingsworth. The Eckville, Alta. native, who also won an Olympic bronze medal at the 2006 Games in Italy, locked up the 19th World Cup podium finish of her career on Friday after stopping the clock at 1:58.13.
“I was sliding so well in training and I didn’t perform today to my potential,” said Hollingsworth, who skidded out of corner two in her opening run and struggled on corner 14 – the same part of the track that plagued her at the Olympics – in her second heat. “For me I felt like it was a bad day, but it is still a medal and I believe that is a good thing. How can I not be happy with it?”
The 29-year-old Hollingsworth is off to a similar start to this Olympic season as her breakthrough campaign in 2006 where she went on to become the first athlete ever to podium in all eight World Cup races, including the Olympic Winter Games. Hollingsworth won a bronze medal at the season-opening race in Park City, Utah, and won the Lake Placid, N.Y. race two weeks ago.
“My top goal is to head to the Olympics in Whistler, and wear the number one bib like I did four years ago,” said Hollingsworth. “I have three medals in three races so I’m happy with the way things are going.”
Amy Gough, of Abbotsford, B.C., completed the stellar day for Canada with all five sleds entered landing in the top-seven. Gough, who slid to her first-ever World Cup podium finish in Park City where she won the silver medal three weeks ago, finished in seventh spot with a time of 1:58.89.
Shelley Rudman, of Great Britain, moved up one spot after a strong second run to win the women’s race with a time of 1:57.46. Germany’s Marion Trott was forced to settle for the silver medal at 1:57.81.
Due to an administrative error on the part of BCS, Michelle Kelly of Fort St. John, B.C., did not start the World Cup race today in Cesana, Italy. BCS assumes full responsibility for this error and will take all steps required to ensure that this error does not impact the athlete’s selection process for the 2010 Olympic team. The 35-year-old Kelly will continue her quest for the World Cup and Olympic podium next weekend in Winterberg, Germany.
The World Cup continues on Saturday in Cesana, Italy, with men’s and women’s bobsleigh action.
For more information on Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, please visit us at www.bobsleigh.ca on the Internet.
FOR COMPLETE RESULTS: www.fibt.com
Top-Five Men’s Results:
1. Jon Montgomery, Russell, Man., CAN, 1:55.54; 2. Martins Dukurs, LAT, 1:56.01; 3. Jeff Pain, Calgary, CAN 1:56.05; 4. Mike Douglas, Toronto, CAN, 1:56.15; 5. Sandro Stielicke, GER, 1:56.25.
Top-Five Women’s Results:
1. Shelley Rudman, GBR, 1:57.46; 2. Marion Trott, GER, 1:57.81; 3. Mellisa Hollingsworth, Eckville, Alta., CAN, 1:58.13; 4. Kerstin Szymkowiak, GER, 1:58.32; 5. Katie Uhlaender, USA, 1:58.61.
Other Canadian Results:
7. Amy Gough, Abbotsford, B.C., 1:58.89