Team Effort Blasts Mellisa Hollingsworth to Bronze Medal at Skeleton World Cup Opener in Austria
—Kaillie Humphries and Emily Baadsvik finish seventh in women’s bobsleigh—
IGLS, Aut.—Mellisa Hollingsworth wasted little time sliding her way onto the podium in the new skeleton campaign, winning the bronze medal at the season-opener in Igls, Austria on Friday morning.
One of the most consistent skeleton athletes on the planet, the 31-year-old Hollingsworth of Eckville, Alta. put down the third-fastest run in her first trip down the 1,220-metre track, and held her spot while clocking a two-run time of one minute, 49.66 seconds. It was the 27th medal of her illustrious 17-year career.
“I messed up my first start where I lost quite a bit of oomph, but I still had a person best with that mistake so I’m happy with it today,” said Hollingsworth, who spent the summer as a rookie athlete competing on the professional rodeo circuit as a barrel racer. “I was interested to see how things would play out with my summer because I haven’t done all the training that I normally do at this time, but I felt really prepared and calm today.
Before the race I was thinking a lot about my horses and drew on every one of those learning experiences I had in that new competitive environment for me this summer. I think it has really balanced my life where everything isn’t skeleton, and put things into perspective. That (perspective) was the last word I said to Duff (Gibson - head coach) at the start line.”
Russia’s Olga Potylitsina captured the gold medal after posting a winning time of 1:49.39. Australia’s Emma Lincoln-Smith slid to the silver-medal position on the podium at 1:49.62.
Hollingsworth may have been the Canadian standing on the podium at the end of the day, but she credits the entire Canadian team for the medal-winning performance.
“This year we set a new standard with our team on how we are going to prepare and learn together,” said Hollingsworth. “This week we did team track walks, looked at the ice together from a different perspective. We have really good team dynamics in a very trusting, fun and friendly environment. I know I finished on the podium, but I really feel this was our entire team’s medal because we worked hard together for this.”
An Olympic bronze medallist and two-time Overall World Cup Champion, Hollingsworth has had great success on the Austrian track located in a small mountain village above Innsbruck.
Friday’s bronze medal run was the fifth podium finish of her career in Igls, and third consecutive third-place finish on the short and flat track. The speed queen also won a bronze (2005) and a silver (2006) in Igls.
“This race is so tight and always separated by hundredths of a second,” said Hollingsworth. “People can come here with little experience and do very well because it is short and dependent on the start. It is not one of my favourite tracks, but every year I come here I’m open to learning. I learned a lot this week by preparing differently with my entire team and that excites me.”
Two other Canadian sleds entered the women’s race on Friday. Calgary’s Sarah Reid kicked off the new season with a 10th-place finish at 1:50.09, while 2010 Olympian, Amy Gough of Abbotsford, B.C., placed 11th (1:50.13).
Meanwhile, the world’s best women’s bobsleigh athletes hit the Igls track following the skeleton race. Olympic gold medallist, Kaillie Humphries (26), teamed up with new brakeman and former rugby player Emily Baadsvik (28) to finish in seventh spot in the Canada 1 sled. The Calgary-based duo clocked a combined time of 1:48.16.
Anja Schneiderheinze and Lisette Thone joined forces to win the gold in the Germany 3 sled with a time of 1:47.26. Sandra Kiriasis and Petra Lammert settled for the silver medal in Germany 1 at 1:47.44, while the United States and Austria tied for third at 1:47.82. Elana Meyers and Katie Eberling won the bronze for the Americans who shared the podium with Austria’s Christina Hengster and Inga Versen.
The World Cup continues on Saturday in Igls, Austria with men’s skeleton and two-man bobsleigh action.
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, 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 www.bobsleighcanadaskeleton.ca.
Complete Results: www.fibt.com
Top-Five Women’s Skeleton Results:
1. Olga Potylitsina, RUS, 1:49:39; 2. Emma Lincoln-Smith, AUS, 1:49.62; Mellisa Hollingsworth, Eckville, Alta., CAN, 1:49.66; 4. Anja Huber, GER, 1:49.74; 5. Shelley Rudman, GBR, 1:49.81
Other Canadian Results:
10. Sarah Reid, Calgary, 1:50.09; 11. Amy Gough, Abbotsford, B.C., 1:50.13
Top-Five Women’s Bobsleigh Results:
1. Schneiderheinze/Thone, GER 3, 1:47.26; 2. Kiriasis/Lammert, GER 1, 1:47.44; T3. Meyers/Eberling, USA 3, 1:47.82; T3. Hengster/Versen, AUT, 1:47.82; 5. Martini/Tischer, GER 2, 1:47.84.
7. Kaillie Humphries, Calgary/Emily Baadsvik, Calgary, CAN 1, 1:48.16.