Canada's Bobsleigh and Skeleton Athletes Bring Sled Full of Medals with them on Track towards Vancouver-Whistler
October 28, 2009
CALGARY—Canada will field a veteran team of bobsleigh and skeleton athletes loaded with international medals for the 2009-10 season, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton announced on Wednesday.
While officially kicking off the Olympic season with Calgary’s Mayor Dave Bronconnier, along with the team’s corporate sponsors, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton named 12 athletes to the Canadian Skeleton Team, and 20 more athletes that will hop into a Visa bobsleigh on the World Cup circuit this year for men’s and women’s competition. Of the 32 athletes named to both sports, four have Olympic medals, seven have World Championship medals, while 14 have reached the World Cup podium throughout their career.
“This group of athletes named to our national teams have combined to win nearly 170 international medals since the last time the Olympic Winter Games were hosted in North America in 2002,” said Don Wilson, chief executive officer, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton. “This is one of the strongest amateur sports teams in the country, and our athletes will be gunning for the podium each time we hit the start line on the World Cup, and ultimately, when our sleds reach Whistler in February.”
Olympic medallists Jeff Pain, of Calgary, and Mellisa Hollingsworth, of Eckville, Alta., will lead a dozen athletes that will wear the maple leaf on both the World Cup and Intercontinental Cup skeleton circuits this year.
Pain and his teammate Jon Montgomery, of Russell, Man., will be looking to duplicate their World Cup performance in 2009 at the Whistler Sliding Centre, where the 38-year-old Pain finished third and Montgomery, 30, won the gold medal. In addition to Pain’s Olympic silver medal in 2006, both athletes have won medals at the World Championships and at multiple World Cup stops. Toronto’s Mike Douglas battled his way back onto the World Cup squad after completing a strong series of three selection races last week to round out the men’s World Cup Team.
Olympic bronze medallist, Mellisa Hollingsworth, who recently captured her fourth national championship crown, will headline a new-look, extremely talented, women’s team that will also include Amy Gough, of Abbotsford, B.C., and Calgary’s Sarah Reid. The 32-year-old Gough, who will start her first full season on the World Cup, lit up the Intercontinental Cup circuit last year where she racked up four podium finishes. The 22-year-old Reid, who is making her second consecutive start on the World Cup Team is one of the most promising athletes in the sport, and first Canadian to ever win a Junior World Championship title in skeleton when she accomplished the feat in 2008.
Six athletes will also make up the Intercontinental Cup skeleton group including: Calgary’s John Fairbairn and Keith Loach, along with Charles Wlodarczak, of Richmond, B.C., on the men’s side. Carla Pavan, of Lethbridge, Alta., Calgary’s Darla Deschamps, and Michelle Bartleman, of Squamish, B.C. will form the women’s team.
The Canadian Bobsleigh Team will field a total of 10 men and 10 women in World Cup competition. Edmonton’s Pierre Lueders, who has accumulated 98 international medals during his 20-year career including an Olympic gold and silver medal, will once again pilot the Canada 1 sled in two- and four-man competition. Pushing Lueders on the world’s best tracks this year will be Edmonton’s David Bissett and Neville Wright, Justin Kripps, of Sumerland B.C., and Olympian Ken Kotyk, of Rama, Sask. Lyndon Rush, of Humboldt, Sask., who finished fourth in the two-man World Cup race in Whistler last season, will drive the Canada 2 sled during the Olympic year. Rush’s crew will consist of Calgary’s Olympic silver medallist Lascelles Brown, Chris Le Bihan, and Dan Humphries, also of Calgary, along with Bret Bresciani, of Okotoks, Alta.
Meanwhile, Calgary’s Helen Upperton is looking forward to returning to the pilot seat in the Canada 1 women’s sled. The 29-year-old Upperton, who has developed into one of the top drivers in the world since finishing fourth at the 2006 Olympics, will be joined by Calgary’s Kaillie Humphries and Amanda Stepenko as Canadian pilots this season. Humphries, who was a brakeman at the 2006 Olympics, drove to two silver-medal finishes on the World Cup last year, while Stepenko will start her first full season on the World Cup in November.
The Canadian women will be pushed by some of the most powerful brakemen in the world this year including: Shelley-Ann Brown, of Pickering, Ont.; Edmonton’s Jenny Ciochetti, Heather Moyse, of Summerside, P.E.I., Amanda Moreley, of Surrey, B.C., Heather Patterson, of Guelph, Ont., Veronique Fortin, of Gatineau, Que., and Sabrina Notarangelo, of Windsor, Ont.
Brad Kane, business leader, Visa Canada presented each of the athletes selected for this year’s national team with Visa Athlete Performance Awards while officially introducing them during the media conference in Calgary. An ardent supporter of Canada’s bobsleigh athletes since 1992 and the skeleton team’s pursuit of excellence since 2004, Visa supports Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton in a variety of unique ways that helps the teams manage practical costs associated with training, coaching, travel and equipment that enables athletes to focus on training and performance.
“Visa has been a long and enthusiastic sponsor of sliding sports in Canada, and we’re pleased to support the national bobsleigh and skeleton teams for another exciting season,” said Brenda Woods, head of marketing, Visa Canada. “With the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games on the horizon, we wish the athletes best of luck as they go for gold in competitions both in Canada and abroad.”
With Calgary playing a critical role in preparing Canada’s bobsleigh and skeleton athletes for the international podium, Mayor Dave Bronconnier welcomed the national team athletes to City Hall, located across the street from Olympic Plaza where the medal ceremonies were held at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, to help the team officially kick off the exciting Olympic year.
“Calgarians are proud of our Olympic heritage and to be home for many of Canada’s athletes as they embark on their journey to 2010,” said Mayor Bronconnier. “Their drive and determination embodies the spirit of the Games, their presence gives us the opportunity to share in the experience, and Calgarians are excited to welcome the Olympic Torch back to our city and once again cheer on our Canadian team members as family, friends and fans.”
Canada’s bobsleigh and skeleton athletes will begin the track to the Olympic Winter Games with their first World Cup race in Park City, Utah, November 9-14, 2009.
For more information on Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, please visit us at www.bobsleigh.ca on the Internet.