Helen Upperton Strikes Gold for Canada at Bobsleigh World Cup in GermanyWINTERBERG, Ger.—Canada’s Helen Upperton finally struck gold in Winterberg, Germany on a track she has struggled with throughout her career.
“It was definitely nice to get some redemption here in Winterberg,” said Upperton, the pilot of the women’s Canada 1 sled who finished fifth on the challenging German track last season. “The weather changes so fast here and it makes it difficult for selecting the proper runners for the conditions. But today fate was on our side and we put all our preparation together to get onto the podium.”
Upperton had more than just fate that willed her to the fourth World Cup victory of her young bobsleigh career. The 29-year-old Calgarian also had world-class pusher, Jenny Ciochetti of Edmonton, that helped her push the Canada 1 sled off to two of its strongest runs ever in Winterberg. The Canadian duo clocked winning times of 58.04 and 57.82 seconds for a combined time of one minute 55.86 seconds.
“Jenny was absolutely great again today and played a critical part in this win,” said Upperton, who has Ciochetti and Heather Moyse, of Summerside, P.E.I., splitting time on the brakes in her sled again this year. The two Canucks pushed Upperton and the Canada 1 sled to five World Cup podium finishes last year. “We always try to keep up with our teammates Kaillie <Humphries> and Shelley-Ann <Brown> at the start, and we did that today.”
Calgary’s Humphries, and Brown, of Pickering, Ont., started fast again in their second stint on the World Cup circuit together, leading the Canada 2 sled to a sixth-place result after clocking a two-run time of 1:56.62. Lisa Szabon, of Nanton, Alta., also had a solid opening race, matching her best result on the World Cup circuit with an eighth-place finish on Saturday. Szabon teamed up with Amanda Moreley, of Surrey, B.C., to post a time of 1:57.25 in the 21-sled field.
Used to starting the World Cup season each year at home, nerves were a little higher than usually heading into the first race of the season for the Canadian sleds who were forced to battle with challenging conditions throughout the week, not to mention the dominant Germans hungry for the podium on their home track.
“I said to some of the girls today that we likely never realized how lucky we were to start the season at home every year because you know the track so well, know exactly what runners to use and are so comfortable,” said Upperton, who began last season by winning gold on her home track in Calgary as well. “It is tough enough to beat the Germans anywhere in the world, but we have the least amount of run volume on the German tracks, and giving them home track advantage makes it even more difficult.”
Replicating the start of the 2007-08 season, two German sleds flanked the Canadian women on the podium. Two-time Olympic medallist, Sandra Kiriasis, who has won nearly every World Cup that she has competed in at Winterberg, teamed up with Romy Logsch to finish second at 1:56.11. Cathleen Martini and Janine Tischer held drove the Germany 2 sled to the final spot on the podium with a time of 1:56.39.
With the snow causing havoc on the Winterberg track, the world’s best men’s bobsleigh athletes also hit the start line for the opening two-man race of the season.
Edmonton’s Pierre Lueders and David Bissett were forced to settle for a fifth-place finish. The 38-year-old Lueders led the Canadian men with a combined time of 1:52.26.
Lyndon Rush, of Humboldt, Sask., piloted the Canada 2 sled to 14th-place. Rush teamed up with Calgary’s Lascelles Brown to post a time of 1:52.76.
Beat Hefti, of Switzerland, wasted no time in solidifying himself as one of the strongest pilots on the World Cup after clocking a winning time of 1:51.79. The rookie pilot, along with brakeman Thomas Lamparter, set both start and two-man track records en route to his first World Cup gold medal in the Switzerland 3 sled.
Olympic champion, Andre Lange, drove the Germany 1 sled into second spot at 1:51.96 with teammate Kevin Kuske, while Thomas Florschütz and Marc Kühne, also of Germany, rounded out the men’s podium in third (1:52.09).
The Canadian men will open the four-man World Cup season on Sunday. Live action of the World Cup race in Winterberg, Germany can be viewed on www.cbc.ca <http://www.cbc.ca/> November 30, beginning at 5:30 a.m. EST.
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Top-Five Women’s Bobsleigh Results: complete results www.fibt.com <http://www.fibt.com/>
1.Helen Upperton, Calgary, and Jenny Ciochetti, Edmonton, CAN 1, 1:55.86; 2. Sandra Kiriasis and Romy Losgsch, GER 1, 1:56.11; 3. Cathleen Martini and Janine Tischer, GER 2, 1:56.39; 4. Eric Pac and Michelle Rzepka, USA 2, 1:56.41; 5. Claudia Schramm and Nicole Herschmann, GER 3, 1:56.47
Other Canadian Women’s Results:
6. Kaillie Humphries, Calgary, and Shelley-Ann Brown, Pickering, Ont., 1:56.62; 8. Lisa Szabon, Nanton, Alta., and Amanda Moreley, Surrey, B.C., 1:57.25
Top-Five Men’s Two-Man Bobsleigh Results:
1.Beat Hefti and Thomas Lamparter, SUI 3, 1:51.79; 2. Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske, GER1, 1:51.96; 3. Thomas Florschütz and Marc Kühne, GER 2, 1:52.09; 4. Matthias Hoepfner and Alex Mann, GER 3, 1:52.16; 5. Pierre Lueders, Edmonton and David Bissett, Edmonton, CAN 1, 1:52.26.
Other Canadian Men’s Results:
14. Lyndon Rush, Humboldt, Sask., and Lascelles Brown, Calgary, CAN 2, 1:52.76
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