Canada's Duff Gibson wins skeleton gold

Canada's Duff Gibson, the 2004 world skeleton champion, posted a winning time of 2:02:17.

Canadian Duff Gibson slid to a gold medal Thursday at the first skeleton World Cup race held in Turin, Italy.

The 2004 world skeleton champion, Gibson raced down the 2006 Olympic track with a two-run combined time of two minutes 02.17 seconds

Fellow Canadian Jeff Pain captured the bronze medal in 2:02:98. Germany's Matthias Biedermann won the silver medal with a time of 2:02.64.

"My goal today was to perform well and to show myself that I have the potential to do well here in 2006," Gibson is quoted on the Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton website.

"After the first run I met my goal to be successful on the track, so I came away quite satisfied with my performance."

The 38-year-old Gibson posted the fastest run on Thursday with a time of 1:00.77, setting a track record on his first run.

"This was an important race because it is our first competition on this track," said Gibson. "I've been trying to watch as many training sessions as I can and do my homework, so to speak, to examine every inch of the track."

Gibson has two World Cup gold medals, and has reached the medal podium three times so far this season.

He moved into second overall in the World Cup standings with 389 points, just behind Pain, who has 420.

"Today's race felt pretty good," said Pain, a Calgary native. "My result today certainly keeps me in the game for the rest of the year, and gives me the opportunity to come out on top of the standings in the end."

Kelly Forbes (tied for 14th) and Paul Boehm (20th) were the only other Canadian men in the field.

In the women's competition, Mellisa Hollingsworth of Eckville, Alta., was the top Canadian, finishing fifth in 2:06.95.

The German women swept the podium in Thursday's competition, with Kerstin Juergens winning the gold medal in 2:04.87. Diana Sartor took the silver medal at 2:05.66, while Monique Riekewald placed third at 2:06.66.

Michelle Kelly of Grande Prairie, Alta., finished eighth (2:07.04), Lindsay Alcock of Calgary was 10th (2:07.34), while Deanna Panting of Winnipeg was 16th (2:08.66).

The next stop on the World Cup circuit for the Canadian skeleton team is Jan. 23-27 in St. Moritz, Switzerland.