Canada’s Elisabeth Maier Slides to Skeleton Silver at World Cup in Latvia

Jane Channell bumped just off podium in fourth on beast of a sliding track in Sigulda

SIGULDA, LAT.—The Canadian women’s skeleton squad stormed into the World Cup season with Elisabeth Maier sliding to the silver medal and Jane Channell finishing fourth on Sunday in Sigulda, Latvia.

Calgary’s Maier, formerly Vathje, tamed the challenging 16-corner Latvian track in a two-run time of 1:45.42 to secure second place. It was the 11th World Cup medal of her five-year career.

“I’m definitely happy with the result today. It was a steep learning curve, but I would not have had the result today if it wasn’t for the amazing team surrounding me,” said Maier, who married Austrian bobsledder Benjamin Maier just weeks after competing in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity to compete here and learn this track from scratch. It made it a lot of fun.”

The 24-year-old Maier was sitting in third place after her first trip down the 1,423 metre slide but jumped up one more step on the podium after chalking up the fastest final run time at 52.59.

It was her first career World Cup podium in Sigulda – one of the world’s most challenging tracks that is not a regular stop on the skeleton World Cup circuit.

“This race was so different than many others because basically nobody had home track advantage,” said Maier, who placed third overall on the World Cup last year. “The track is so well maintained with nice smooth ice that made it quick for us. I definitely have some bumps and bruises from the last couple of weeks, but that is the nature of the beast that is Sigulda.”

Russia’s Elena Nikitina topped the Canuck for the gold-medal position on the podium with a time of 1:45.12. Germany’s Tina Hermann squeaked out the bronze medal over Canada’s Jane Channell after posting a time of 1:45.60.

North Vancouver’s Channell nearly made it a double-medal day for the Canadian women in Sigulda. Coming into the season-opening World Cup race with just six official training runs in Sigulda, the 30-year-old put down her two fastest runs when she need them most, finishing just off the podium in fourth place.

“I was a bit nervous because I wasn’t here for training last week, but I think it was a great week for the team,” said Channell. “There were some hits and misses, and of course we always want to do better, but it was a great opening to the (Olympic) quadrennial here in Sigulda. It’s a tricky, technical track but is always nice to come back and slide here.”

Ottawa’s Mirela Rahneva was the only other Canadian in the field where she finished 12th at 1:47.30.

Posting top start times, Rahneva was also in the podium hunt after her first run sitting in sixth place, but struggled in the final heat and dropped six places in the standings.

The Canadians will look to build on the momentum gained in the first race of the season when the World Cup travels to Winterberg, Germany next week.

Complete Women’s Skeleton Results:

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