Skeleton

Here are Canada's top skeleton racers vying for selection to Beijing 2022

At the forefront of the season's preparation for all skeleton national team members (and hopefuls) is the Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton team selection process. A process that has multiple parametres and standardized requirements for athletes to achieve eligibility within the program.

Head-first daredevils enter 1st World Cup of season with less than 80 days to Games

Canada's Jane Channell speeds down the track during the women's skeleton race at the Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Championships in Altenberg, Germany in February. (Matthias Schrader/The Associated Press)

Sliding sports are back and we have a need for speed.

There is less than a week until the first World Cup of the season (scheduled for Innsbruck, Austria), meaning we have officially dipped below 80 days to the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Just last month, the best skeleton racers in the world travelled to Beijing for a three-week training session, and test race at the Yanqing National Sliding Center. This was their first (and only) preview of the new Olympic track which will play host to all three sliding disciplines during the Games.

That said, you may be wondering what else the Canadian head-first dare-devils have been up to since we last saw them nine months ago at the 2020-21 World Championships in Altenberg, Germany. Answer: training.

Like all of these Canadian winter athletes, undeniably riding the wave of monumental results from Team Canada at Tokyo 2020, skeleton racers have been hard at work preparing their bodies, minds and hearts for the biggest season of this quadrennial.

At the forefront of that preparation for all skeleton national team members (and hopefuls) is the Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton team selection process. A process that has multiple parametres and standardized requirements for athletes to achieve eligibility within the program.

In past years, the athletes were made aware of the National Sport Organization (NSO)'s full, detailed selection criteria months in advance of team selections. This year, despite many athletes seeking clarification throughout the summer via emails and formal requests facilitated through their athlete representative directly to Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, the official National Skeleton Program 2021-22 NSP Selection Process & Criteria document was not shared with all members until October 25, 2021.

This also coincided with an official announcement that this year's official selection race would be held November 3, 2021 at the Whistler Sliding Centre. This tight timeline caused mixed reactions, and many of the athletes had just returned home from China.

The dust has now settled from that single selection race and upon review of the team criteria, as well as some deliberation from Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton's high-performance committee, the Team Canada skeleton teams have been designated.

Here are your top Canadian skeleton racers to watch as we count down to Beijing 2022.

Catch this crew on the World Cup circuit

Jane Channell

Speed and power are second nature to this North Vancouver native. Channell has been a member of the World Cup team since 2015, and is hyper focused on the drive to Beijing.

2021-22 team selection race result: Bronze

Mirela "Mimi" Rahneva

Missing last season due to injury, Rahneva is back and stronger than ever. Sliding with her eyes on the podium, she is on the hunt to secure a race spot for Beijing 2022.

2021-22 team selection race result: 4th

Kyle Murray

Murray has been sharpening his sliding skills on the World Cup circuit since he was awarded two races in the 2018-19 season. However, citing costs, Murray has requested (and been granted permission) to focus on lower circuit IBSF points to qualify for Beijing from the Intercontinental Cup Circuit.

2021-22 team selection race result: Silver

Mark Lynch

An athlete who calls St. John's, N.L., home, Lynch made his World Cup debut in this past season. This 33-year-old is ready to test his limits and is pushing to be named to his first Canadian Olympic team.

2021-22 team selection race result: 4th

Keep an eye

Hallie Clarke

The newest Canadian slider to break into the women's squad, Clarke has been showcasing her on-ice abilities since winning medals last year on the North American Can circuit. She has now officially been named to the senior team this season and will race the InterContinental Cup.

2021-22 team selection race result: Gold

Madison Charney

Looking to take her 12 years of sliding experience to the ultimate level, Charney is in hot pursuit of a coveted Olympic spot. She will be racing on the InterContinental Cup circuit.

2021-22 team selection race result: Silver

Evan Neufeldt

Hailing from the prairies, Neufeldt was a member of Team Canada skeleton from 2011 to 2017, but a diagnosis of epilepsy saw him sustain a broken neck from a fall while in hospital just last year. A true testament to the athlete spirit, Neufeldt has made a triumphant return and is gunning to get back to the World Cup and be in Beijing this February.

2021-22 team selection race result: Gold

Blake Enzie

Discovering skeleton in 2015, Enzie has been making massive strides within the program ever since. He was officially designated as a member of the senior team this year and will be racing on the InterContinental Cup circuit.

2021-22 team selection race result: Bronze

Notable missing names

Elisabeth Maier

With 13 World Cup medals to her name, a solid ninth place at Pyeongchang 2018, and 13 years of sliding experience, it was a surprise to discover that Maier was not named to any roster this Olympic season.

2021-22 team selection race result: 6th

Kevin Boyer

Sliding since 2012, Boyer had the highest finish for the men's squad in Pyeongchang with a result of 17th; he will not be racing this season.

2021-22 team selection race result: 5th

Dave Greszczyszyn

A staple of the Canadian program since 2008, "Canada Dave" was unable to successfully clinch his repeat Olympic appearance opportunity.

2021-22 team selection race result: 6th

Head coach: Team Canada will travel with no designated head coach for both World Cup and InterContinental Cup circuits. The athletes will need to find and create (self-funded) partnerships with other countries, or other coaches for coaching support this entire season.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Never one to back down from a challenge, Cassie is no stranger to the fast-paced world of high performance sports. Whether broadcasting live on air as an analyst, on the sidelines, in the mixed-zone as a field reporter, or in her role as a former member of Team Canada's Women's Skeleton squad - controlling chaos runs in her veins. Follow Cassie on social media @cassiehawrysh.

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