Frustrated by a season of high expectations and inconsistent results, Helen Upperton found some satisfaction in her final World Cup race of the year.
The pilot from Calgary and brakeman Shelly-Ann Brown of Toronto won Saturday's two-man bobsled event Saturday, their first and only victory of the campaign.
Seeking a positive ending, the duo experimented with a new sled in training this week before returning to their tested "Fernando" sled for the race.
They set set a new Cesana track record of 56.99 seconds during their first run, and clocked 57.22 on their second for a combined time of 1:54.21.
The gold gave the Olympic silver medallists three podiums this season. They posted a pair of thirds earlier.
"We have such high expectations as a team, and the results haven't been as great as we wanted so I was a little adventurous in training and tried a new sled," said Upperton. "The team was joking that `Fernando' would be jealous that I was cheating on him.
"It was a fun test, but the other sled just didn't work, so I went back to Fernando for the race."
Esme Kamphuis and Judith Vis of the Netherlands were second in 1:54.50 while the Germany 1 sled of Sandra Kiriasis and Stephanie Schneider was third in 1:54.52.
Olympic champions Kaillie Humphries of Calgary and Heather Moyse of Summerside, P.E.I., were fifth in the Canada 1 sled. They finished third in the overall World Cup standings with 1,400 points.
Kiriasis was first overall with 1,711 points, followed by fellow German Cathleen Martini at 1,563. American Shauna Rohbock was fourth at 1,365 and Upperton fifth, just four points back thanks to the win.
"I just figured it is the last World Cup of the season, and gave it everything I had," said Upperton. "I was waiting for that race all year. I felt I had it, but the results just weren't there."
The World Cup victory was the fifth of Upperton's career but her first with Brown, who earned her first career gold at this level.
"I am happy for Shelley, she won the push competition earlier this week, and this could be her final World Cup so it was great for her to get a win," said Upperton. "This is such a fun track to slide on. The atmosphere here is great and I'm pretty happy because I now have the start record here with Moyse, and the track record with Brown."
In the men's race, Lyndon Rush of Humboldt, Sask., and Edmonton-based teammate Neville Wright finished fourth at 1:51.24.
Italy's Simone Bertazzo and Matteo Torchio won the men's race with a time of 1:50.96.
Switzerland's Beat Hefti and Thomas Lamparter were second at 1:51.10, while Germany's Thomas Florschuetz and Kevin Kuske won the bronze medal with a time of 1:51.11.
Calgarians Chris Spring and Justin Wilkinson teamed up in the Canada 2 sled to finish 17th at 1:52.60.
The World Cup wraps up on Sunday in Cesana, Italy with the men's four-man bobsleigh race.