Canadian Skeleton Athletes Embark on Mission for Medals

—Jon Montgomery takes year off to test equipment, prepare for charge to 2014—

CALGARY—Canada will field a veteran team of skeleton athletes loaded with international medals when the first World Cup race of the 2011-12 season gets underway in Igls, Austria, November 28 – December 4. 

Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton named 12 athletes to the Canadian Skeleton Team – six that will compete on the World Cup circuit, and six on the Intercontinental Cup circuit. Led by a star-studded women’s team, the Canadian squad has combined to win medals at all major international events including Olympics, World Championships at all levels, World Cups, and Intercontinental Cups. 

“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, World Championships in February,” said Nathan Cicoria, high-performance director, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton. “We have an extremely deep team led by a number of veterans that are among the best in the world who will be counted on to guide our program to the podium.” 

Olympic medallist and two-time Overall World Cup champion, Mellisa Hollingsworth of Eckville, Alta., will lead a trio of high-powered Canadian women on the World Cup. A bronze medallist at the 2011 World Championships, Hollingsworth will be joined by 2010 Olympic teammate, 34-year-old Amy Gough of Abbotsford, B.C. Gough is coming off a breakthrough season where she slid to the bronze medal position on the podium three times. Calgary’s 24-year-old Sarah Reid, who was the first Canadian to win the Junior World Championships in skeleton, rounds the women’s team. Reid has split her time on the World Cup and Intercontinental Cup circuits over the last two years.

Canada’s men’s World Cup squad will be a combination of veteran experience with youthful energy. Toronto’s Mike Douglas, who made his Olympic debut in 2010, will be counted on to lead a new-look group of athletes. Douglas, who has multiple fourth-place finishes on the World Cup, will be hunting down his first career podium finish. Calgary’s John Fairbairn will start his second season on the World Cup, while Victoria’s Eric Neilson will make his debut on the elite circuit.

Olympic gold medallist, Jon Montgomery, will take the year off to remain in Canada. The 32-year-old from Russell, Man., who led the team’s selection races this fall, made the decision last week in consultation with his coaches and support staff in order to test equipment, and work on his continued development in Calgary and Whistler in an effort to be fully prepared for the run to Sochi 2014. 

“From a strictly performance based standpoint, I’ve decided to sacrifice my favourite part of life as an athlete this season as I believe this is my only window of opportunity to take a step back from competition and take ownership of my equipment development,” said Montgomery, who launched Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton’s campaign search for a new title sponsor last week.  “By sticking around Calgary this winter, and doing some solo travel to Whistler, I can work collaboratively with my sled manufacturer to create a new sled and have it dialed in for next season when we start to earn Olympic Qualifiers for 2014. 

Every move I make is weighed and measured in value for representing Canada to the best of my ability in 26 months time in Sochi.  I want to ensure that I can rest easy at the start line at the 2014 Games knowing that I’ve done everything within my power to be one of the many Canadians that I anticipate will join Catriona Le May Doan to successfully defend their Olympic gold title.”   

While Montgomery’s break from the World Cup opens the door of opportunity for a young Canuck to gain World Cup experience, the depth continues into a talented group of athletes that will compete on the Intercontinental Cup circuit. 

Montgomery’s new wife and World Cup medallist, Calgary’s Darla Deschamps- Montgomery, will lead the women’s team on the Intercontinental Cup. Joining Deschamps-Montgomery will be Michelle Bartleman, of Squamish, B.C., and Calgary’s Lanette Prediger. Rob Derman, of Spruce Grove, Alta., and Vancouver’s Charles Wlodarczak will compete in the men’s races on the Intercontinental Cup.

The World Cup for skeleton and bobsleigh begins this week in Igls, Austria, November 28 – December 4. Canada will host back-to-back World Cups, January 30 – February 5 in Whistler, B.C.; and February 6-12 in Calgary. 

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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, KBC Helmets, Eurotech – Viking Engineering, SAIT Polytechnic, Therapeutica – 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