Canda’s Hollingsworth Hangs on for Bronze Medal Win in World Cup Skeleton Season
November 28, 2008
WINTERBERG, Ger.—Just like the movie “Groundhog Day,” Mellisa Hollingsworth began the 2008-09 World Cup skeleton season the way she started and ended it last year – in third place.
The 28-year-old rodeo enthusiast had a solid ride on Friday, posting the third-fastest time in each of her two runs while driving to the bronze medal in Winterberg, Germany with a combined time of one minute 58.38 seconds.
“I am really happy with this start to the season because I really had no high hopes heading into the first race,” said the 2006 Olympic bronze medallist, who added the Winterberg track is one of the easier tracks on the circuit that usually results in a tighter field, which it did on Friday with the top of the pack separated by only fractions of a second. “You just never know who is going to do well here besides the Germans. I am happy with this start, but I know there is room for improvement.”
After stepping off the podium on Friday, Hollingsworth reflected on a life-altering trip she had this past April with Right to Play in Ghana, West Africa that she credited for giving her the inspiration to push herself back onto the World Cup podium.
“I told my teammate Sarah <Reid> that I couldn’t stop thinking today about all those kids I was able to help introduce to sport in Ghana,” said Hollingsworth, who embarked on the trip with fellow Olympians, Emily Brydon, Clara Hughes and Steve Omischl. “I reflected today on that experience remembering when those kids were introduced to new sports, there was nothing that intimidated them. They just had this sense of appreciation to have the opportunity to play the game. I hit the start line today with an overwhelming appreciation to have the opportunity to play this game called skeleton.”
Hollingsworth returned to the World Cup last season after taking the post-Olympic year off to recharge the batteries for a long journey back to the Olympic podium. Now more calm, relaxed and comfortable in her environment, Hollingsworth has been one of the most consistent athletes on the World Cup circuit, and her new outlook on life and sport could be scary for her opponents.
“I know I am going to have to prepare for some challenges and intense moments closer to the Olympics that are out of my control, but being relaxed is what works for me,” said Hollingsworth, who finished third overall on the World Cup last year. “I am in a comfortable head space right now and enjoying life.”
A couple of other athletes were also enjoying life on their home ice in Germany on Friday. Defending World Cup champion, Anja Huber of Germany, took down her countryman, Kerstin Szymkowiak, to win the opening race of the season. Huber captured the gold medal with a two-run time of 1:57.72, while Szymkowiak settled for the silver at 1:57.74.
Two other Canadian women also suited up in Winterberg. Michelle Kelly, of Fort St. John, B.C., finished in a tie for eighth spot at 1:59.01, while World Cup rookie, Sarah Reid, of Calgary was 12th (1:59.49).
Meanwhile, Canada’s Jeff Pain continued his comeback to the top of the World Cup podium with a fifth-place finish in Germany. The 37-year-old Calgarian, who led all Canadians during the pre-season selection races after competing on the Intercontinental Cup circuit last year, posted a combined time of 1:54.84.
Pain was joined in the men’s race by teammates, Jon Montgomery and Paul Boehm, who finished seventh and 16th respectively. Montgomery, of Russell, Man., who finished second overall on the World Cup last year, clocked a two-run time of 1:54.96. Calgary’s Boehm, who captured his first-ever World Cup victory in last year’s season-opener on his home track in Calgary, stopped the clock at 1:55.68.
Germany’s Florian Grassl delighted the hometown crowd after sliding into the winner’s circle with a time of 1:54.13. Russia’s Alexander Tretiakov was second at 1:54.16, while Lativa’s Martins Dukurs rounded out the men’s podium in third (1:54.42).
The Canadian Skeleton Team will enjoy a day off tomorrow before heading down the road to Altenberg, Germany to prepare for a World Cup race, December 7, 2008.
For more information on Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, please visit us at www.bobsleigh.ca on the Internet.
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Top-Five Women’s Results:
1. Huber, GER, 1:57.72; 2. Kerstin Szymkowiak, GER, 1:57.74; 3. Mellisa Hollingsworth, Eckville, Alta., CAN, 1:58.38; 4. Katie Uhlaender, USA, 1:58.60; 5. Noelle Pikus-Pace, USA, 1:58.71.
Other Canadian Results:
8. Michelle Kelly, Fort St. John, B.C., 1:59.01; 12. Sarah Reid, Calgary, 1:59.49
Top-Five Men’s Results:
1. Florian Grassl, GER, 1:54.13; 2. Alexander Tretiakov, RUS, 1:54.16; 3. Martins Dukurs, LAT, 1:54.42; 4. Gregor Staehli, SUI, 1:54.62; 5. Jeff Pain, Calgary, CAN, 1:54.84
Other Canadian Results:
7. Jon Montgomery, Russell, Man., 1:54.96; 16. Paul Boehm, Calgary, 1:55.68
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