Olivier Jean, left, and Charles Hamelin celebrate their winning weekend.
It was quite a weekend for Canada’s top winter sport athletes, with several athletes standing on the World Cup medal podium, including three on the top step.
Mellisa Hollingsworth won gold in the women’s World Cup skeleton event on Saturday in La Plagne, France, while Mikael Kingsbury took top spot in the opening freestyle mogul World Cup race of the season. On the ice, Charles Hamelin was golden in the men’s 500-metre short track speed skating World Cup in Shanghai, with teammate Olivier Jean taking silver in the 1,000-metres and the team winning silver in the men’s relay.
Canada’s luge team added a silver medal in the team relay event in Whistler, B.C.,
In other weekend highlights:
- Calgary’s Chris Spring, along with Toronto’s Tim Randall, Calgary’s Derek Plug and Saskatoon’s Graeme Rinholm were ninth in Sunday’s four-man World Cup bobsleigh race in La Plagne.
- Pilot Lyndon Rush, of Humboldt, Sask., and brakeman Neville Wright of Edmonton were fifth in the two-man bobsleigh race in La Plagne. Rush’s four-man sled finished 11th.
- Megan Imrie of Falcon Lake, Man., Zina Kocher of Red Deer, Alta., Rosanna Crawford of Canmore, Alta., and Megan Heinicke of Squamish, B.C., teamed up to finish fourth in the women’s 4×6-kilometre biathlon relay at a World Cup race in Hochfilzen on Sunday.
- Brendan Green, of Hay River, N.W.T., Jean-Philippe Le Guellec, of Shannon, Que., Regina’s Scott Perras, and Marc-Andre Bedard, of Valcartier, Que., were 15th in the men’s 4×7.5-kilometre biathlon relay.
- In Davos, Switzerland, Devon Kershaw of Sudbury, Ont., narrowly missed the podium, finishing fifth in a World Cup cross-country ski sprint, while Alex Harvey of St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., was ninth and Toronto’s Len Valjas was 28th. Chandra Crawford of Canmore, Alta., was the top Canadian woman, finishing ninth overall in her event. Perianne Jones of Almonte, Ont., was 29th and Daria Gaiazova of Banff, Alta., was 30th.
In France, Hollingsworth ended a two-year gold-medal drought on the World Cup circuit, as she won her sixth career World Cup race. The tour returned to La Plagne for the first time since 2000.
“It was a good one and first in a long time so I’m really happy,” said Hollingsworth, who trains at WinSport Canada’s track at Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park. “Things have changed so much and I don’t remember anything. It was a really intense week of learning with the team walking the track and watching video which was exhausting so this is nice to win.”
Hollingsworth now has 29 trips to the World Cup podium to her credit, to go along with an Olympic bronze medal, two overall World Cup crowns and two world championship medals.
“If there is one thing I am most proud of in my career it is my consistency of getting on the podium and knowing that I can be in the medals on any type of track,” said Hollingsworth.
Calgary’s Sarah Reid was eighth on Saturday, while Amy Gough of Abbotsford, B.C., was 12th.
At the Whistler Sliding Centre, Alex Gough, Sam Edney and the doubles tandem of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith clocked a time of two minutes 19.001 seconds, as the World Cup returned to the venue for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. The World Cup circuit now moves to Canada Olympic Park for races on Friday and Saturday.
Kingsbury, meanwhile, started his season off in fine fashion in Kuusamo, Finland, with the 19-year-old native of Deux-Montagnes, Que., earning a final-round score of 25.00 and the yellow leader’s bib.
“It feels pretty crazy to wear the yellow bib,” said Kingsbury. “It feels like a dream come true. It’s not just being on the World Cup podium, it’s wearing the bib of the Number 1 on the World Cup. I’ve always dreamed of that and now it happened. I’m not going to give it up without a fight.”
Quebec City’s Philippe Marquis was fifth, while Quebec’s Marc-Antoine Gagnon was 11th and Cedric Rochon of St. Sauveur, Que., was 15th.
The top Canadian women’s honours went to Montreal’s Chloe Dufour-Lapointe, who was seventh. Her sister, Maxime, was ninth, while Chelsea Henitiuk of Spruce Grove, Alta., was 13th.
Many of Canada’s top winter athletes make their training home or compete at WinSport Canada’s facilities. For more on WinSport, log on to www.winsportcanada.ca.