Road To The Olympic Games

Skeleton

Canada's Mirela Rahneva slides to silver medal on home soil

Ottawa's Mirela Rahneva earned her third World Cup medal of the season in women’s skeleton, finishing second to Tina Hermann on Saturday, a day after defeating her German opponent in Calgary.

Ottawa native won her 2nd women’s skeleton World Cup race of season on Friday in Calgary

Canada's Mirela Rahneva smiles after her second-place finish at a women's skeleton event in Calgary on Saturday, her third medal of the World Cup season. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Ottawa's Mirela Rahneva earned her third medal of the season in women's skeleton, finishing second to Tina Hermann on Saturday, a day after defeating her German opponent in Calgary.

Rahneva, 30, clocked a two-run time of one minute 57.52 seconds, 13-100ths of a second behind Hermann (1:57.39). Laura Deas of the United States was third in 1:57.68.

"It was a little tricky, the conditions were different than yesterday," she told Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton. "It was a sticky [start] groove so it was hard to get off the block, which affects your speed into the first four corners, but I had a good first run."

WATCH | Rahneva scores silver in Calgary:

Mirela Rahneva made a strong run to the podium with a 2nd place finish in world cup action from Calgary. 1:40

Two other Canadians finished inside the top 10: Calgary's Elisabeth Maier in fourth (1:57.74) and Jane Channell of North Vancouver, B.C., in seventh (1:58.07).

Rahneva has eight World Cup medals, including three this season, after capturing gold in late January at St. Moritz, Switzerland and clinched third place in the overall points race for the second time in three years.

"The momentum is definitely exciting, and it comes at a good time with world [championships] next," said Rahneva of the Feb. 25-March 10 event at the Whistler Sliding Centre in B.C. "I'm looking forward to it."

12th in Olympic debut

Rahneva initially wanted to follow two-time Canadian Olympic champion Heather Moyse's path from rugby to the bobsleigh track, but the five-foot-six, 143-pound athlete soon realized she was too small to push the sled.

WATCH | Rahneva slides to gold

The Ottawa native posted the fastest time in both runs one her way to winning gold in the women's skeleton World Cup stop in Calgary Alberta. 2:12

In the 2016-17 campaign, Rahneva, who emigrated from Bulgaria at age 10, cracked the Canadian World Cup roster and earned a bronze at a World Cup stop in Lake Placid, N.Y., in just her second race on the circuit.

Last season, Rahneva posted one World Cup podium and was 12th in her Olympic debut in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Hermann sat fourth after her first run before bolting to first-place position after posting the fastest second-run time.

Maier faced some challenges midway through the 14-corner track but shrugged it off afterwards.

"These races were to get me back on my feet which helped a lot. World championships in Whistler [B.C.] is what is important."

Bronze medal reinstated last year

Also Saturday, Elena Nikitina, one of the athletes implicated in the doping scandal that overshadowed the 2014 Sochi Olympics, become the first Russian to win the World Cup overall points championship with her fifth-place finish.

Nikitina won the bronze medal in Sochi, eventually had that result stripped by the International Olympic Committee — and then had the medal reinstated in a ruling last year.

Before this season, no Russian woman had even finished in the top three spots of the World Cup standings. The only other Russian skeleton athlete to win a World Cup title was Alexander Tretiakov, who was also implicated in the Sochi doping scandal.

Tretiakov was the 2008-09 men's champion, and leads this season's race over reigning Olympic champion Yun Sungbin of South Korea going into the men's finale on Sunday.

Men's and women's bobsled was scheduled for later Saturday. A second men's skeleton race and four-man bobsled Sunday concludes the World Cup season.

With files from The Associated Press and Canadian Press

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