Gough claims skeleton bronze in Calgary
A Canadian woman found her way to the podium at the skeleton World Cup event in Calgary on Thursday, but it probably wasn't the one most people were expecting.
Amy Gough of Abbotsford, B.C., claimed bronze with a combined two-run time of one minute 56.89 seconds, edging out teammate Mellisa Hollingsworth of Eckville, Alta., by 0.09 seconds.
The result left Gough pleasantly surprised, and Hollingsworth both happy and frustrated.
"It feels really good to be the top Canadian," said Gough. "That's only happened once before in my career [a silver medal in the World Cup opener last season in Park City, Utah], so it feels really good and it's definitely a huge confidence booster."
Germany's Anja Huber followed up her bronze last week in Whistler, B.C., with a gold Thursday, clocking 1:55.84. Shelley Rudman of Great Britain finished second, 0.77 seconds behind.
"It's a nice track," said Huber. "It's hard to beat the Canadians, because these girls are really, really good here, but I trained hard.
"I concentrated on the track and worked hard this week and now the result is a gold medal and that's perfect."
Sarah Reid of Calgary finished seventh in 1:57.86.
While the Canadian women had three finishers in the top 10, the men couldn't say the same thing after the afternoon skeleton races.
After finishing first in Whistler one week ago, Jon Montgomery, of Russell, Man., finished a disappointing 11th with a time of 1:54.00. Calgary's John Fairbairn (1:54.02) and Toronto's Michael Douglas (1:54.37) finished 12th and 13th respectively.
"I blew it, that's for sure," Montgomery said. "I can't fault my equipment today. It was just bogus driving. I'm better than that. I can do better than that. I'm not happy with it, bottom line."
Calgary's John Fairbairn (1:54.02) and Toronto's Michael Douglas (1:54.37) finished 12th and 13th respectively.
"Something just didn't click," said Fairbairn, a rookie slider on the World Cup circuit who was 10th after the first run. "I didn't have the energy I guess. I dropped back two spots after my second run, so that's probably the source of my disappointment."
Latvia's Martins Dukurs, who placed fifth in Whistler, won gold in 1:52.14 to edge out Russia's Alexander Tretiakov by .09 seconds. Tretiakov clocked a push record time of 4.76 seconds over the first 50 metres to put the pressure on Dukurs.
"When I saw the start, I understand that I can't make any mistake and must be really, really solid with the run and I did it," Dukurs said. "Because of that I'm happy."
Gough's strong result came after she battled nerves prior to the race. She didn't see her success coming at all.
"I really thought it would be a track meet here and I'm not a track star," Gough said. "I was a little bit nervous coming into the race, but I really was calm and I put two consistent runs together, so it was good."
Hollingsworth, on the other hand, wasn't pleased with either of her runs. After winning a silver in Whistler last weekend, she struggled with her starts this time around.
"As long as you have a really good start, you can do well on this track, and my starts weren't good," she said. "I'm really frustrated. I'm a lot better on this track.
"Just the reading of the groove was not right for me today."
Despite her disappointing showing, Hollingsworth gave Gough a big hug at the finish line to congratulate her teammate.
"We got a Canadian on the podium," Hollingsworth said. "That's been the No. 1 goal for our entire team."
Gough appreciated the gesture.
"Mel's a great teammate," she said. "We all really support each other."