Canadian Men’s Bobsleigh and Skeleton Athletes Threaten Podium at World Cup in Austria
—Rush and Lumsden sixth, Douglas and Neilson seventh in skeleton—
IGLS, Aut.—Four Canadian men flirted with the podium in World Cup bobsleigh and skeleton action on Saturday in Igls, Austria.
Canada’s dynamic duo of Lyndon Rush and Jesse Lumsden hit the start line for their first race together in the Canada 1 two-man bobsleigh. The 31-year-old Rush, of Humboldt, Sask., and 29-year-old Lumsden, of Burlington, Ont., powered the newly-designed Eurotech bobsleigh to a sixth place finish with a two-run time of one minute, 44.96 seconds.
“It was a good day in an extremely competitive race,” said Tom Delahunty, head coach, Canadian Bobsleigh Team. “Lyndon and Jesse have really good team dynamics and are a very strong pair that work well together. Rush had his fastest start today in Igls so it was a good sign today.”
A short and flat track, the Igls layout is traditionally known as a starters race. Rush overcame a bit of the odds on Saturday after falling into the sled on the start of his second run when his start handle collapsed on the sled, and barreled into the wall before the first corner on the 1,220-metre track. But the 2010 Olympic bronze medallist in the four-man event managed to maintain his speed to hold onto sixth spot.
Calgary’s Chris Spring and Toronto’s Tim Randall, who are competing in their first full season on the World Cup, had a solid outing in the Canada 2 sled where they finished 13th at 1:45.41.
Switzerland’s Beat Hefti and Thomas Lamparter won the World Cup opener with a time of 1:44.24. Thomas Florschuetz and Kevin Kuske teamed up in the Germany 1 sled to claim the silver at 1:44.36, while Steven Holcomb and Justin Olsen got their season off to a good start in the USA 1 bobsleigh, winning the bronze with a time of 1:44.42.
Earlier in the day the world’s best men’s skeleton athletes hit the Igls track where three Canucks took part in their opening race. Team veteran, Mike Douglas of Toronto, and World Cup rookie, Eric Neilson of Victoria, led the Canadian charge to the podium finishing deadlocked in seventh spot at 1:47.89.
Hitting the start line with a newly-designed sled by SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary, Douglas took advantage of two great pushes to keep himself in the hunt for his first World Cup medal.
“Having two Canadian athletes in the top-seven hasn’t happened a lot in recent history so it was a nice day for Canada in Austria,” said Douglas who competed for Canada at the 2010 Olympics. “In the absence of Jon Montgomery, we\'ve rallied together and worked very hard as a team to bring out the best in all three of us. Duff (Gibson – head coach) has been instrumental in developing a team atmosphere and we\'re seeing the benefits in the very first race of the season.”
Neilson overcame his first World Cup jitters to show he belongs with the best athletes in the world. A tight race, Neilson put down the seventh-fastest run in his second trip down the track to climb his way up the standings.
“I was pretty nervous going into the race, which I don’t normally get, but being my first World Cup race I had a few butterflies,” said Neilson. “I felt like my nerves got the better of me in my first run and I muscled the sled through some corners which cost me. I was much more relaxed on the second run and didn’t bully my sled down the track. I thought my time was good, but never did I think I’d move up that many spots because there are some great athletes on this tour. My teammates really mentored me through the week and were a huge help.”
Calgary’s John Fairbairn finished 15th (1:48.30) to start his second World Cup season.
Latvia’s Martins Dukurs took the gold with a time of 1:45.64. Russia’s Alexander Tretiakov grabbed the silver at 1:46.74, while Latvia’s Thomass Dukurs snagged the bronze at 1:46.77.
The World Cup wraps up on Sunday in Igls, Austria with the men’s four-man bobsleigh race.
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 Men’s Bobsleigh Results:
1. Beat Hefti/Thomas Lamparter, SUI, 1:44.24; 2. Thomas Florschuetz/Kevin Kuske, GER 1, 1:44.36; 3. Steven Holcom/Justin Olsen, USA 1, 1:44.42; 4. Oskars Melbardis/Daumants Dreiskens, LAT 2, 1:44.72; 5. Patrice Servelle/Lascelles Brown, MON, 1:44.92
6. Lyndon Rush, Humboldt, Sask., Jesse Lumsden, Burlington, Ont., CAN 1, 1:44.96; 13. Chris Spring, Calgary/Tim Randall, Toronto, CAN 2, 1:45.41.
Top-Five Men’s Skeleton Results:
1. Martins Dukurs, LAT, 1:45.64; 2. Alexander Tretiakov, RUS, 1:46.74; 3. Tomass Dukurs, LAT, 1:46.77; 4. Frank Rommel, GER, 1:47.16; 5. Kristan Bromley, GBR, 1:47.32.
T7. Mike Douglas, Toronto, 1:47.89; T7. Eric Neilson, Victoria, 1:47.89; 15. John Fairbairn, Calgary, 1:48.30.