Rahneva scores World Cup skeleton gold on home ice in Calgary
Fellow Canadian Elisabeth Maier grabs bronze
Canada's Mirela Rahneva won a World Cup women's skeleton race on home ice Friday, posting the fastest time in both heats to prevail by about a half-second over Germany's Tina Hermann.
It was the second victory of the season for the Ottawa native, who had a 0.46 second lead over Hermann.
"This is amazing. It is a track that we know and love, and it is just such a good feeling to be sliding here," Rahneva said.
"The track crew did an incredible job of making the ice nice and smooth despite the cold weather we've had here. It felt so good to be on home ice."
Canada also grabbed the bronze, with Calgary's Elisabeth Maier holding off World Cup leader Elena Nikitina of Russia, who hit the wall on her final run and caused sparks to fly.
WATCH | Nikitina end her run with a bloody nose
"Thinking of sharing the podium has been a bit of an extra driving force for me so it was really cool I was able to move up from fourth to third today," Maier said.
WATCH | Rahneva slides to gold
Germany's Jacqueline Loelling, the Olympic silver medallist , was second in the World Cup standings entering the weekend and had the best chance of catching Nikitina in the season points chase. But Loelling is not scheduled to race this weekend, Hermann has moved into second place overall and Nikitina now needs only a 13th-place finish in the women's season finale on Saturday to clinch the crown.
WATCH | Maier takes bronze
In the men's race later Friday, Russia's Alexander Tretiakov held off South Korea's Yun Sungbin for the victory, with Latvia's Martins Dukurs placing third. Austin Florian led the Americans with an 11th-place finish.
Tretiakov now leads Yun by 49 points in the season-long standings with one race left, meaning no worse than a fourth-place finish in the men's finale on Sunday will lock up the World Cup overall title for him.
WATCH | Tretiakov wins men's race
Dave Greszczyszyn, of Brampton, Ont., matched his career-best sixth-place World Cup finish. The 39-year-old Olympian put down his top-two runs of the season to finish with a time of 1:52.44.
WATCH | Greszczyszyn slides to sixth
It is a jam-packed final weekend of the World Cup season for skeleton athletes. Because a race was cancelled earlier this season in Germany after heavy snow, there are double races for both skeleton disciplines in Calgary this weekend. Women will race their World Cup season-finale on Saturday, and men will finish their circuit for the season on Sunday.
It's a farewell weekend to the season and possibly a farewell to sliding in Calgary. The track that played host to the races at the 1988 Winter Olympics faces a most uncertain future because of funding concerns.
"We've got to save the track," Rahneva said.
WATCH | Complete coverage of the women's heats
WATCH | Complete coverage of the men's heats
With files from CBC Sports