Hallie Clarke Slides to Season-Best Seventh at Skeleton World Cup in Norway

Mirela Rahneva places 11th in World Cup return, Blake Enzie cracks top-20, Ryan Kuehn 27h in World Cup debut

LILLEHAMMER, Nor.—Canadian skeleton athlete, Hallie Clarke, had her best result of the season in her first World Cup appearance at the 1994 Olympic Track in Lillehammer, Norway where she slid to seventh place.

Clarke, of Brighton, Ont., finished just .01 seconds out of the elite group of six after clocking a two-run combined time of 1:46.27 down the 1,710-metre icy chute that is located nearly 15-kilometres north-west of Lillehammer.

“I’m very excited with my result. It was a very run race to be a part of today,” said the 19-year-old Clarke, who has two World Cup medals and a Junior World Championship title to her credit.  “I loved racing here and I hope we are able to come back in the future.”

The top junior-aged slider on the World Cup, Clarke’s only other top-10 finish this season came in La Plagne, France where she was 10th.

Competing in just her second year on the elite circuit, Clarke came into the race with confidence after a strong week of training. She put down the fourth-fastest start time in the opening heat, but struggled to drive clean down the track, putting her in 13th place.

“I think I got in my head during the first run. Training had been going well and I psyched myself out a bit,” she said.

Leaning on caches and teammates for a mid-race pep talk, the talented head-first slider regrouped to clock the fourth-fastest time in the final run, blasting down the 16 corner slate in a time of 52.98, and catapulted six spots up the standings.

“The team and coaches really hyped me up for the second run,” said Clarke. “Their belief in me, and support, is what changed my mindset, and sometimes a shift in mindset is all it takes.”

The young Canuck finished just .33 seconds off the golden pace set by Germany’s Hannah Neise. The 23-year-old Olympic champion rocketed to her fifth victory of the World Cup season, clocking-in at 1:45.94.

Mystique Ro, of the United States, finished .05 seconds off the winning mark in the silver-medal position at 1:45.99, edging out Kimberley Bos (The Netherlands). The Dutch slider settled for the bronze medal with a time of 1:46.00.

Ottawa’s Mirela Rahneva made her return to the World Cup after an extended break during the holiday season where she continued her training in Canada in preparation for the lead up to World Championships, while logging some additional hours working at KidSport – an organization that provides an avenue for youth to access sports.

The two-time Olympian placed 11th in the 32-sled field with a time of 1:46.40.

Two Canadians also suited up for the men’s race. Calgary’s Blake Enzie took positive steps forward in his continued development, sliding into the top-20 with a time of 1:44.14 for 19th place. Calgary’s Ryan Kuehn was the latest Canuck this season to make his World Cup debut. The 21-year-old did not qualify for the second heat with the top-25, finishing 27th overall.

The Germans swept the men’s podium. Christopher Grotheer slid into the winner’s circle with a time of 1:42.85. Axel Jungk was second at 1:42.93, while Felix Seibel battled to the bronze in a time of 1:42.95.

It was the first time this new generation of Canadian sliders competed in a World Cup on the track in Lillehammer, Norway. The short week of training put a premium on teamwork in order to find the fast lines.

“It’s my first time on the track and I’m walking away saying it is one of my favourites,” added Hallie Clarke. “The team worked really well together to figure things out. It was that teamwork that made the process of learning a new track less stressful and a little easier.”

The World Cup continues in Lillehammer on Saturday with the women’s monobob races.

Complete Women’s Skeleton Results:

Complete Men’s Skeleton Results:

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 – Karbon – along with the Government of Canada, Own the Podium and the Canadian Olympic Committee, Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton develops champions in the community, on and off the track, who have a passion for bobsleigh and skeleton. Please visit us at www.bobsleighcanadaskeleton.ca.