Great Britain and Germany win gold as Skeleton World Cup returns to Whistler

Great Britain and Germany win gold as Skeleton World Cup returns to Whistler
Great Britain and Germany win gold as Skeleton World Cup returns to Whistler

WHISTLER, BC — Canadian Blake Enzie kicked off his first full Skeleton World Cup campaign on Thursday.

WHISTLER, BC — Canadian Blake Enzie kicked off his first full Skeleton World Cup campaign on Thursday.

Running alongside athletes he has long admired, the 21-year-old Calgarian posted a personal-best sixth-place finish at the season opener in Whistler, BC.

“It’s cool to have the new generation (in the sport),” said Enzie, who competed in three World Cup events last year. “It’s really nice to be here, finally.”

The young Canadian got off to a good start, posting a time of 53.59 seconds in his first of two runs. When he gets back on the starting line, he is surprised to see his name still hovering among the leaders.

“I was like, ‘I’ve never been here before. Playing with the big dogs today. But hopefully I’ll keep going for the rest of the season,” Enzie said with a smile.

Britain’s Marcus Wyatt finished the race with a time of one minute, 45.44 seconds to win his first World Cup gold medal. He was only 0.01 seconds ahead of South Korean Seunggi Jung.

Briton Matt Weston was third and Evan Neufeldt of Saskatoon was 13th.

Wyatt and Weston got off to a blistering 4.46-second start in their second run of the day, setting a new start record at the Whistler Sliding Center.

“I felt pretty fast. I was a little nervous, a little extra adrenaline in my legs,” Wyatt said.

The pair take the record from a familiar face – their performance coach, Martins Dukurs, a Latvian skeleton legend who joined the British team in August.

Dukurs and fellow coach Matthias Guggenberger elevated the sport, Wyatt said.

“They bring a kind of perfection that a lot of teams only dream of,” he said.

Hannah Neise of Germany slipped to gold in the women’s event clocking 1:47.40. The 22-year-old won the top prize at the Beijing Olympics in February, but Thursday marked her first World Cup victory.

“I just see the Olympics as a race, because it’s clean (race). I just wanted to try to be better this year in the World Cup,” Neise said. “But I didn’t think it would start like this.”

Making her World Cup debut, American Hallie Clarke wowed many, leading throughout the first run and finishing the day in second place, 0.18 seconds behind Neise. The 18-year-old dual citizen is based in Calgary and raced for Canada before moving to the Stars and Stripes this season.

Brogan Crowley won Britain’s third medal of the day, finishing in third place.

Mirela Rahneva of Calgary was the top Canadian in the women’s race finishing seventh while Jane Channell of North Vancouver was eighth after a tough second run.

Channell also posted a new starting record in her first run, a 4.74 that beat the 4.77 Rahneva set in 2018.

“Honestly, mechanically, it was horrible,” Channell said of the start. “I was really hoping for a faster one on the second run.”

Thursday marked the first time Whistler has hosted a Skeleton World Cup since 2019, and Canadian athletes enjoyed being able to race at home again.

“It feels really, really good to be back here. It’s been too long,” said Channell, who was not on Team Canada when Whistler hosted the world championships in 2019.

“Being back on the team, on my home track with some of my friends and family, after COVID is really, really special.”

World Cup action continues Friday with the women’s monobob and two-man bobsleigh. Saturday will feature the two-woman bobsleigh and the four-man bobsleigh.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 24, 2022.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

. Great Britain Germany win gold so world cup skeleton returns Whistler

. Great Britain Germany win gold Skeleton World Cup returns Whistler

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