Elena Nikitina wins World Cup skeleton gold amid controversy
Canada's Mirela Rahneva finishes just off podium in 4th place
Russia's Elena Nikitina won a World Cup skeleton race Saturday while her Olympic bronze medal remains under scrutiny as part of the investigation into state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Games.
She erased a slight deficit in her second run to finish in 1 minute, 40.49 seconds. Germans took the next two spots — Tina Hermann in 1:40.51 and Jacqueline Loelling in 1:40.73.
Ottawa's Mirela Rahneva finishes fourth — just 0.14 seconds off the podium — while Elisabeth Vathje of Calgary finished sixth just a little more than a week after a season-opening silver.
"I am extremely happy. We had a great week in Lake Placid as a team but I was a little shaky getting that first race out of the way. I haven't been here for three years, but I definitely got a lot more confident after today," said Rahneva, who finished third overall on the World Cup in her rookie season last year while sliding to the podium four times.
"Sometimes after a great year you expect a slump year. The girls have been working really well together and Liz [Elisabeth Vathje] and Jane [Channell] were a big help to me this week sharing lines. I hope we can keep taking turns bringing medals home."
Reigning Olympic champion Lizzy Yarnold of Britain was eighth.
The International Olympic Committee will decide on Dec. 5 if Russia can compete at the upcoming Pyeongchang Games. Nikitina's result from Sochi might also be vacated if a separate IOC panel determines she was guilty of doping then.
Yun avenges loss to Dukurs
In the men's race, Yun Sungbin of South Korea convincingly beat Latvia's Martins Dukurs for the gold — as the two reversed their finishes from the season-opener in Lake Placid, New York, last weekend. Yun had the fastest start in both heats and finished in 1:37.32, while Dukurs completed his two runs in 1:37.95 and was denied what would have been his 50th World Cup victory.
Edmonton's Kevin Boyer was the top Canadian in 14th place.
Axel Jungk of Germany was third in 1:38.07. For the second straight weekend, the U.S. men struggled — on home ice, no less. Just like in Lake Placid, no American was close to the podium as Matt Antoine finished 12th, Greg West tied for 16th and John Daly took 18th.
With files from CBC Sports