Canadian Sliders Bring Nearly 180 Medals Since 2002 to Olympic Games

Canada will send 18 bobsleigh and skeleton athletes to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, who bring an impressive list of medals won as long as the 1,450-metre track they will compete on at the Whistler Sliding Centre, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton announced on Wednesday.

The national body for the two sliding sports nominated a stellar roster of 12 bobsleigh and six skeleton athletes to the Canadian Olympic Committee for inclusion in the 2010 Games. The Canadian athletes announced to the team have combined to win 18 World Cup medals in the two sports this season.

“Canada is a force to reckon with in the sliding sports of bobsleigh and skeleton,” said Don Wilson, chief executive officer, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton. “Since the last time the Olympic Winter Games were held in North American in 2002, our program has accumulated nearly 180 international medals. These results are a tribute to the talent and dedication to excellence by this elite group of athletes and coaching staff.”

The athletes were officially introduced by 18 lucky Calgary kids in front of more than 700 of their fellow students that painted the gym red with clothing at Olympic Heights School. After being introduced, the athletes received a pair of red mittens from the inspired student while putting on their new Olympic jacket.

Led by Mellisa Hollingsworth’s seven-medal haul on the World Cup this year, the 10 podium finishes by Canadian skeleton athletes helped qualify three sleds in both men’s and women’s competitions.

The 29-year-old Hollingsworth, of Eckville, Alta., will head into the Olympic Games with the number one bib on after winning the Overall World Cup title this year. Hollingsworth will be joined at the Games by Michelle Kelly, of Fort St. John, B.C., who will also make her second Olympic appearance. The 35-year-old Kelly, who has won at all levels in the sport, will be gunning for her first Olympic podium. Amy Gough, of Abbotsford, B.C., will make her Olympic debut. The 32 year old won her first World Cup silver medal in Park City, Utah this season.

The Canadian men will be looking for a repeat performance from the 2006 Olympic where they nearly swept the podium. Olympic silver medallist, Jeff Pain of Calgary, will look to get back on the podium with Jon Montgomery, of Russell, Man. Montgomery won the World Cup race last year in Whistler, while Pain finished third. Both athletes have one podium finish each this season. Toronto’s Mike Douglas is rounding into top form while getting set for his first Olympics. Douglas has two fourth-place finishes on the World Cup this year.

“This is a very talented group of athletes that bring a wealth of experience, and know what it takes to succeed under pressure on the international stage,” said Wilson. “Depth is critical to attacking the podium in sport, and each one of these athletes are capable of winning a medal.”

Canada’s hopes for a string of medals at the Whistler Sliding Centre will continue into the bobsleigh races, with all four sleds capable of driving onto the podium.

Calgarians Kaillie Humphries and Helen Upperton will pilot the two women’s sleds.

Humphries, who was an alternate brakeman at the 2006 Olympics, has emerged into one of the top pilots in the world after moving into the drivers seat following Torino. Shattering start records all season, the 24-year-old Humphries finished second overall on the World Cup after winning four medals with Heather Mosye, of Summerside, P.E.I., pushing her. Moyse finished fourth with Upperton at the 2006 Games.

Upperton, who has racked up a sled full of medals over the last four years including one silver this season, will team up with Shelley-Ann Brown, of Pickering, Ont.

The Canadian men will also send a dynamic one-two punch to the start line in both the two- and four-man races.

Lyndon Rush, of Humboldt, Sask., will drive into his first Olympic Winter Games having won a gold medal in both the two- and four-man events this year. The 29-year-old Rush also won a bronze in the four-man. Team Rush will include Calgarians Lascelles Brown and Chris Le Bihan, along with Edmonton’s David Bissett.

Edmonton’s Pierre Lueders, who has won 98 international medals during his 20-year career including an Olympic gold and silver, will return for his fifth Olympic Winter Games. Pushing Lueders at the Whistler Sliding Centre will be a crew of Olympic rookies including fellow Edmontonians Neville Wright and CFL star running back, Jesse Lumsden. Justin Kripps, of Summerland, B.C., who has been on Team Lueders since 2007 will round out the four-man team.

Canada’s bobsleigh and skeleton athletes will split time between Whistler and Calgary over the next two weeks to complete their final training preparations before attending the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Team Roster

Mike Douglas – Toronto
Amy Gough, Abbotsford, B.C.
Mellisa Hollingsworth, Eckville, Alta.
Michelle Kelly, Fort St. John, B.C.
Jeff Pain – Calgary
Jon Montgomery – Russell, Man.

David Bissett – Edmonton
Lascelles Brown – Calgary
Shelley-Ann Brown – Pickering, Ont.
Kaillie Humphries – Calgary
Justin Kripps – Summerland, B.C.
Chris Le Bihan – Calgary
Pierre Lueders – Edmonton
Jesse Lumsden – Edmonton
Heather Moyse – Summerside, P.E.I.
Lyndon Rush – Humboldt, Sask.
Helen Upperton – Calgary
Neville Wright – Edmonton