Hollingsworth slides to skeleton gold in Whistler
Canadian Mellisa Hollingsworth won World Cup gold on Thursday at a skeleton track that has plagued her since a disappointing fifth place finish at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
The native of Eckville, Alta., finished in a two-run time of one minute 49.79 seconds at the Whistler Sliding Centre in Whistler, B.C., while Lucy Katherine Chaffer of Australia finished second in 1:49.79 and Shelley Rudman of the United Kingdom was third in 1:50.36.
"This is the biggest World Cup win for me in my career," Hollingsworth said. "I expected to be winning here a couple of years ago and this track has haunted me ever since.
Hollingsworth on Whistler
In December 2010, Mellisa Hollingsworth wrote a piece for CBCSports.ca describing her first run on the Whistler track since her disappointing finish at the Vancouver Olympics.
Click here to read Hollingsworth's take on the challenges of Whistler, in her own words.
"Today is about redemption and a sense of relief."
Calgary's Sarah Reid was sixth while Amy Gough of Abbotsford B.C., was seventh.
The result moved Hollingsworth up the season's standings to third with 1250 points. Germany's Marion Thees continues to hold the top spot with Rudman in second.
Finishing at the top after the first heat brought familiar flood of emotions that Hollingsworth admits was reminiscent of the 2010 Games.
"As I was warming up, it felt eerie because it was the same month, same setting sun and same place after the second run as that day in 2010. I know that I am my own worst enemy but I had to block it out and respect the track," Hollingsworth said.
Hollingsworth's win is her seventh gold medal for a total of 31 World Cup medals in 98 races over her 17-year career. She won silver on the same track at last year's World Cup race in Whistler.
"I had to focus on me and my sled. Finishing on the podium last year was the first step. This is my home track and I can slide the fastest here," Hollingsworth said.
The race was a monumental one for Chaffer, a native of Perth, Aus., who stood on the podium for the first time in her career. A relative rookie to the World Cup circuit, Chaffer's result exceeded her expectations.
"I didn't know I could go that fast and do it consistently," Chaffer said. "I like the atmosphere on this track. It's weird but I can relax here."
Canada's Reid was also comfortable on the Whistler track with a run that earned her sixth place. This season is Reid's first as a regular on the circuit and her focus is now on world championships in Lake Placid, N.Y., later this month.
"I am just learning to peak for a major event, which means I am one step closer to Sochi in 2014. I love this track because things get out of control quickly if you are not careful," Reid said.