Canadian Skeleton Athltes Slide to Gold and Bronze Medals at Intercontinental Cup CalgaryCALGARY—Canada’s skeleton athletes capitalized on home-ice advantage by sliding to the podium twice in the season opener of the Intercontinental Cup at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary on Thursday.
Darla Deschamps captured the gold medal in her first ever women’s Intercontinental Cup race, a feeder series to the World Cup circuit. The 27-year-old Deschamps, who took up the sport three years ago, clocked in a winning two-run time of one minute 58.90 seconds.
Deschamps then stepped off the podium to go track-side and watch her teammate, Keith Loach, win a bronze medal for Canada in the men’s event. The 33-year-old Loach posted a combined time of 1:54.80.
“It’s awesome to get this first victory,” said a smiling Deschamps. “I was pleased to throw down two consistent runs, and it is a great confidence booster to kick off the season knowing I can dominate on my home track.”
Winning her first Intercontinental Cup gold medal in her first race does not change the season outlook for the composed Calgarian.
“This is just the start of the season, and my goals are to continue to develop and increase my start times,” said Deschamps. “I’m excited to keep it going down in the next races down in the U.S.”
Keslie Tomlinson, of the United States, was second in women’s action with a time of 1:59.05, while Germany’s Katharina Heinz rounded out the women’s podium at 1:59.07.
Two other Canadians joined Deschamps in the women’s field. Carla Pavan, of Lethbridge, Alta., was sixth at 1:59.41, while Amy Gough, of Abbotsford, B.C., was eighth (2:00.12).
Loach hit the start line with two other Canucks in the men’s race.
Struggling in the Kreisel corner, which is one of the most difficult sections of the 14-corner Olympic Track on the western edge of Calgary, Loach took advantage of two decent starts to hold on for his third Intercontinental Cup bronze medal in four races.
“Driving ability is definitely my strength, but I had some trouble in Kreisel on both runs today,” said Loach following the podium ceremony. “My goal is top-three in every race so I am happy to accomplish that today.”
Entering the sport as a walk-on off the street in 2003, Loach has managed to quickly work his way up through the Canadian ranks having spent three seasons at the America’s Cup level and two more on the Europa Cup circuit. He spent the last two seasons splitting time on both the Intercontinental Cup and World Cup circuits. His next major goal is to compete full time on the World Cup level, and at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Canadian athletes on the Interncontinetal Cup circuit are vying for spots within the top-three over the next 14 months to continue being considered for selection to the Olympic team.
Mike Douglas, of Toronto, and Jamie Landry, of Prince Albert, Sask., fell just short of that goal in Calgary, finishing seventh (1:56.05) and eighth (1:56.09) respectively.
Germany’s Michi Halilovic won the men’s race with a time of 1:54.23, while his countryman, Andy Wood, solidified the silver medal after crossing the finish line with a time of 1:54.23.
The Intercontinental Cup athletes now travel to Park City, Utah for two races on December 11-12, 2008.
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Top-Five Women’s Results:
1. Darla Deschamps, Calgary, CAN, 1:58.90; 2. Keslie Tomlinson, USA, 1:59.05; 3. Katharina Heinz, GER, 1:59.07; T4. Anne O’Shea, USA, 1:59.27; T4. Nozomi Komuro, JPN, 1:59.27.
Other Canadian Results:
6. Carla Pavan, Lethbridge, Alta., 1:59.41; 8. Amy Gough, Abbotsford, B.C., 2:00.12
Top-Five Men’s Results:
1.Michi Halilovic, GER, 1:54.23; 2. Andy Wood, GER, 1:54.53; 3. Keith Loach, Calgary, 1:54.80; 4. Chris Type, GBR, 1:54.87; 5. Alexander Gasznar, GER, 1:55.06
Other Canadian Results:
7. Mike Douglas, Toronto, 1:56.05; 8. Jamie Landry, Prince Albert, Sask., 1:56.09.
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