Mirela Rahneva Wins Bronze in China to Open World Cup Skeleton Season

Jane Channell slides to 12th, Hallie Clarke 15th

BEIJING, China—Mirela Rahneva found sweet redemption in her first return to the 2022 Olympic Track, winning the bronze medal at the World Cup opener on Friday in Yanqing, China.

The 35-year-old tamed the unique “Sleeping Dragon” track with a two-run time of 2:03:99.

“I left Beijing with some unfinished business (in 2022). I didn’t get to go back after PyeongChang so to be able to come and race here again, and have two good runs feels really good,” said Rahneva. “I loved seeing the Canada flag go up (today). I would have loved to see it go up in a different position, but I’ll take it!”

The Ottawa resident has good vibes on the 16-corner chute that winds its way down the mountain valley in the Yanqing district near Beijing. She threw down a track record to open the four-run Olympic race in 2022 where she ended up in fifth spot. On Friday, the Ontario head-first speedster rocketed to third place times in both heats to secure the 14th World Cup podium of her career.

“I do love this track. It’s a lot of single pressure swoopy corners. You go up really high, exit and feel acceleration out of the single pressure corners. It also has a few straightaways and I mastered those,” said Rahneva. “I also love the fact there is so much thought put into this track. It is built so well, there is so much emotion in it that I think I relate to.”

Last year’s overall World Cup champion, Tina Hermann of Germany, squeaked out the gold medal with a combined time of 2:03.81. China’s Dan Zhao was .02 back in the silver medal position, clocking a time of 2:03.83.

Rahneva’s 35-year-old teammate from the last two Olympic Games, Jane Channell, was also back in Beijing on Friday. The experienced North Vancouver slider stopped the clock at 2:07.80 for 12th spot. Hallie Clarke, of Brighton, Ont., finished 15th in her first trip to the 1,975-metre test. The 19-year-old placed 15th with a time off 2:08.20.

It has been quite a run for Rahneva since coming up two spots short in her quest to slide onto the Olympic podium in the women’s skeleton race at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre. Last season, she capture her first ever World Championship podium, claiming the bronze. The breakthrough performance capped off a season that included a victory and second-place finish, earning the veteran slider a Crystal Globe for finishing third overall on the World Cup in 2022-23 for the third time of her career.

“This year, it is about regaining the joy and gratitude I have for skeleton. I am realizing I can’t do this forever,” said Rahneva. “I’m in it this year to love the sport for what it is and be grateful for the opportunity I have to represent Canada. Any time your flag goes up it is a good moment so it was a good start.”

It sure was for Rahneva and the Canucks. They will now return to Canada before heading to Europe for two events prior to the holiday break: La Plagne, France (December 8-10) and Igls, Austria (December 15-17).

Complete Women’s Skeleton Results:

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