Canada's Hollingsworth earns world skeleton silver
Canadian Mellisa Hollingsworth matched a career best at the skeleton world championships Friday, finishing second to American Katie Uhlaender.
Uhlaender finished the four heats over two days at Mount Van Hoevenberg in three minutes 42.33 seconds, edging Hollingsworth by 0.17 seconds.
"I had four consistent runs and that's all you can ask for in this kind of race," said Hollingsworth. "I'm not tapped out yet though. I didn't have the strongest pushes so we have some adjustments to work out there, but it was a great day and we are definitely on track two years out from Sochi."
An Olympic bronze medallist in 2006, it was the third world championship medal in Hollingsworth's 17-year-career. The Eckville, Alta., native also won the silver in 2000 in Igls, Austria, and slid to a bronze medal last year in Konigssee, Germany.
Uhlaender also won silver at the world championships in 2008 in Altenberg, Germany, and bronze the previous year in St. Moritz, Switzerland, when teammate Noelle Pikus-Pace won.
Elizabeth Yarnold of Britain took the bronze, 0.36 behind and just ahead of teammate Shelley Rudman, the World Cup champion. Olympic champion Amy Williams of Britain was fifth and two-time defending world champion Marion Thees of Germany was sixth.
Calgary's Sarah Reid finished 11th while Amy Gough of Abbotsford, B.C., was 12th.
In the men's race Friday night, defending world champion Martin Dukurs of Latvia held a lead of 0.69 seconds over Frank Rommel of Germany after two runs. American Matt Antoine was a solid third.
Calgary's John Fairbairn finished seventh in 1:49.81.
A snowstorm began moving into the region just as the competition got under way Friday morning. Uhlaender slid first and continued her consistency with a run of 55.62 seconds, giving her three runs within 0.13 seconds of each other.
Hollingsworth was even better, though, with her first three times within 0.07, and started the final run trailing by just 0.17. Rudman, in third, was 0.41 behind.
Yarnold's blistering third run of 55.40, the fastest of the two days of competition, allowed her to slice 0.22 off Uhlaender's lead and at least give Hollingsworth hope that one slip-up by the American could decide the winner in what essentially was a race between two sleds.
Hollingsworth knows all about slip-ups, having been second at the Vancouver Olympics after three runs and not making the podium after a poor final run.
On this day, three of the top-five finishers logged identical times on the final run — 55.68 — including the top two as Uhlaender maintained her winning margin.
Cowbells reverberated around the mountain as Uhlaender made her way down the final time, extending her lead to as much as 0.35 halfway down the tricky 19-turn layout. Rudman had nearly toppled off her sled near the bottom on her final run, dropping her from medal contention, but Uhlaender slid smoothly through, the crowd erupting in applause midway down as they anticipated gold.
At the finish, Uhlaender popped open her visor and extended her arms forward in celebration after seeing her winning time, then quickly made her way toward the fans and began high-fiving them, jumping up and down in a gleeful celebration.