Canada's Mellisa Hollingsworth came into this season with a chip on her shoulder, and it showed at the World Cup women's skeleton opener in Whistler, B.C.
Hollingsworth placed second Thursday at the track used for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, 0.42 seconds behind former world champion Marion Thees of Germany who had a two-run time of one minute 48.98 seconds. Germany's Anja Huber was third.
The race had a lot of similarities to the 2010 Olympics, where Hollingsworth sat in second place overall after three runs and was just one run away from the silver medal. A mistake in her final run dropped the Eckville, Alta., native into fifth place.
Hollingsworth was also sitting in second for run number two on Thursday, and while she wasn't the fastest, she was fast enough.
"No tears this time," she joked after the race. "I do feel emotional, just because I'm happy and proud that I was able to overcome what happened in February and put two solid runs together. And the final run is always the one I make my mistakes on."
Amy Gough of Abbotsford, B.C., was sixth in 1:50.66, followed by Calgary's Sarah Reid, 1:75 behind.
Canada's Lyndon Rush and brakeman Neville Wright tied for second in the two-man bobsled race later in the night.
Rush, from Humboldt, Sask., and Edmonton's Wright, tied Germans Karl Angerer and Christian Friedric. They were just 0.19 seconds off the pace set by Germany's Manuel Machata and Andreas Bredau, who finished in a two-run time of 1:44.06.
"We had a hard week and beat up a lot of equipment so I feel good about tonight," said Rush, who crashed earlier in the week during a training run. "I'm a bit beat up but I'm happy."
Rush, who turned 30 on Wednesday, enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2010 when he became the first Canadian in more than 40 years to win an Olympic medal in the four-man bobsled — he won bronze.
"This is a fantastic venue and I love the challenge. I'm glad to be back and be on the podium," Rush said.
Hollingsworth, meanwhile, wasn't the only slider to find redemption in Whistler. Thees, the reigning world champion and one of the favourites coming into the Olympics after winning the World Cup test event at the Whistler Sliding Centre, finished a disappointing eighth in the Games.
"At the Olympics I had not so good runs, so it was good for me that I could win here today," she said.
With cold, fast ice during training, athletes were courting the course record all week, although with snow and warmer temperatures the ice slowed down. There were crashes in training for both skeleton athletes and bobsled teams, although the consensus was that the course is safer after improvements over the summer, while retaining its title as the fastest in the world.
According to Whistler Sliding Centre manager Paul Shore, some concrete was reshaded coming out of Turn 11 and heading into Turn 12. Turn 13 had earned the nickname 50-50 because athletes said you have a 50-50 chance of crashing.
It was a small amount of concrete, but Hollingsworth was among the competitors who noticed the difference.
"If anything it's more forgiving," she said. "If you hit (the wall coming out of Turn 12) before you reached (Turn) 13, it was more than likely that you were going to be flipped over. But now (hitting the wall) is a speed killer, and you still don't want to do it, but it's more forgiving for crashes."
There may be more changes to the track down the road. The Whistler Sliding Centre is complying with a recommendation from the B.C. Coroner's Service to complete a safety assessment on the track, following the death of Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili during a training, just hours before the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Games.
After his death, a decision was made by the International Luge Federation to lower the starts for luge athletes during the Games. Bobsled and skeleton did not lower their starts.
The Canadian men's skeleton team competes on Friday.