Canada’s Elisabeth Maier wins skeleton silver at World Cup opener

SIGULDA, Latvia — Elisabeth Maier slid to the silver medal and Jane Channell finished fourth as Canada’s women’s skeleton squad kicked off the World Cup season on Sunday.

Calgary’s Maier tamed the challenging 16-corner Latvian track in a two-run time of one minute 45.42 seconds to secure second place. It was the 11th World Cup medal of her five-year career.

“I’m definitely happy with the result today. It was a steep learning curve, but I would not have had the result today if it wasn’t for the amazing team surrounding me,” said Maier.

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity to compete here and learn this track from scratch. It made it a lot of fun.”

The 24-year-old Maier was sitting in third place after her first trip down the 1,423 metre slide but jumped up one more step on the podium after chalking up the fastest final run time at 52.59.

It was her first career World Cup podium in Sigulda — one of the world’s most challenging tracks that is not a regular stop on the skeleton World Cup circuit.

“This race was so different than many others because basically nobody had home track advantage,” said Maier, who placed third overall on the World Cup last year. “The track is so well maintained with nice smooth ice that made it quick for us. I definitely have some bumps and bruises from the last couple of weeks, but that is the nature of the beast that is Sigulda.”

Russia’s Elena Nikitina took gold with a time of 1:45.12. Germany’s Tina Hermann squeaked out the bronze medal over Channell, from North Vancouver, B.C., who posted a time of 1:45.60.

Ottawa’s Mirela Rahneva was the only other Canadian in the field where she finished 12th at 1:47.30.

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