Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton Kicks off 100-Day Countdown to 2018 Games by Naming World Cup Squads in Toronto
CALGARY—A veteran lineup of Canadian bobsleigh and skeleton athletes will head into the critical 2017-18 season on a mission for medals, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton announced on Wednesday while officially naming its World Cup Teams in the heart of Toronto.
With just 100 days remaining until the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, the governing body for the two sliding sports in Canada named six athletes to the World Cup Skeleton Team and 17 athletes to the World Cup Bobsleigh Team. Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton also announced five additional athletes, who make up the NextGen Bobsleigh Team, will also start the season in Lake Placid, NY for the first World Cup race of the Olympic year, November 4-5.
Of the 28 athletes representing Canada in the two sports, two have combined for four Olympic medals – Kaillie Humphries and Lascelles Brown – five have World Championship medals, while 18 have reached the World Cup podium throughout their careers.
“Our teams goals are completely clear – to win medals. We have not wavered from this goal throughout the Olympic quadrennial. This is a hungry team of athletes who know they can win when it matters most,” said Chris Le Bihan, high-performance director, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, who officially named the World Cup teams during a two-day community outreach initiative in Toronto which included a corporate push challenge in Nathan Phillips Square on Wednesday to determine the fastest executive on Bay Street.
“We have one of the deepest pool of athletes this program has witnessed over the last three quadrennials – who all know what it takes to win. Led by a group of veterans who have delivered on under the most intense pressure, these two teams will push each other, and be pushed by our development level athletes, over the next four months with the ultimate goal of standing on the Olympic podium and contributing to Canada’s medal count in Pyeongchang.”
Canada will field a full line up of three men and three women on the skeleton start list this year. Three of the most explosive starters in the world will make up the women’s team which includes: third-place overall World Cup finisher from last year, Mirela Rahneva (Ottawa); World Championship and multiple World Cup medallist, Elisabeth Vathje (Calgary); along with Jane Channell (North Vancouver) who has set start records throughout the fall.
A trio of athletes will also reunite on the men’s World Cup skeleton squad in hopes of all earning a spot on Canada’s Olympic Team. Barrett Martineau (Calgary) will look to push his way into the top-five this year along with Dave Greszczyszyn (Brampton, Ont.), while Kevin Boyer (Sherwood Park, Alta.) will build on his rookie season last year on the World Cup.
Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton will also send four bobsleigh pilots to the World Cup start line throughout the 2017-18 season.
Two-time Olympic gold medallist, Kaillie Humphries (Calgary), will look to add to her decorated resume that includes five World Championship and 43 World Cup podiums as the lone women’s pilot named to the World Cup Team.
The 32-year-old Humphries will once again have Melissa Lotholz (Barrhead, Alta.) and Toronto’s Cynthia Appiah, on her brakes to start the year.
Canada’s medal hopes in men’s bobsleigh will be in the hands of an accomplished trio of pilots including: Calgary’s Chris Spring; Justin Kripps (Summerland, B.C.); and Hamilton’s Nick Poloniato.
Spring slid to a bronze medal in both the two- and four-man competitions last year, while Kripps had two podiums of his own, including a two-man silver medal at World Championships. Poloniato proved he is ready to mix it up with the most elite bobsleigh athletes on the planet with a fifth-place finish at the World Championships in his rookie season.
A heavyweight crew of brakemen will be fighting to push one of the three men’s pilots on the World Cup, and for a spot on the Olympic roster.
Three Olympic heavyweights – Lascelles Brown (Calgary), Jesse Lumsden (Burlington, Ont.), and Neville Wright (Edmonton) - will be joined by eight other athletes to provide the horsepower for the Canadian sleds. The pool of brakemen include: Alex Kopacz (London, Ont.); Josh Kirkpatrick (London, Ont.); Olympian Ben Coakwell (Saskatoon); Derek Plug (Calgary); Olympian Tim Randall (Burlington, Ont.); Cam Stones (Whitby, Ont.); along with Joey Nemet (Hamilton); and newcomer to the Canadian program – Olympic track and field star, Seyi Smith (Ottawa).
Alysia Rissling (Edmonton) and Christine De Bruin (Stony Plain, Alta.), will also pilot women’s sleds for the World Cup opener in Lake Placid. Canada’s NextGen Team will also include brakemen: Catherine Medeiros (Mascouche, Que.); Kristine Bujnowski (Mount Brydges, Ont.); and Olympic hurdler Phylicia George (Markham, Ont.).
Team Canada will begin the path to Pyeongchang, Korea with the season-opening World Cup race set for Lake Placid, NY, November 4-5. The final race in the Olympic qualification period will be in St. Moritz, Switzerland, January 8-14.
In addition to holding a push challenge with corporate executives in Toronto’s core, and inspiring 600 Grades 6 to 8 with a day of activities during a visit to Hodgson Middle School, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton also presented the inaugural winner of the L. Lamont Gordon Spirit of Sport Award to Joey Nemet on Wednesday.
Nominated by his fellow athletes, and selected by the Gordon family, Nemet exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship and team spirit that Gordon prided himself on both as a respected business leader on Bay Street, and alumnus of Canada’s bobsleigh program. Gordon has been financially supporting the sliding sport program for more than half of a century.
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 – Karbon, Driving Force, Calgary Stampede and Conceptum Sport Logistics – along with the Government of Canada, Own the Podium and the Canadian Olympic Committee. Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton develops Olympic and world champions. Please visit us at www.bobsleighcanadaskeleton.ca.
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