Canada’s Bobsleigh, Skeleton Athletes Fly into Post-Olympic Season

Canada’s medal-winning bobsleigh and skeleton athletes made a captivating return to Vancouver, landing in front of the Olympic cauldron in a Harbour Air Seaplane Thursday as Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton unveiled its 2010 World Cup rosters.

While officially launching the post-Olympic season, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton announced the Canadian sleds will be in good hands with each of the sports 2010 Olympic and World Cup medallists returning for the new season. The governing body for the two sliding sports named six athletes to the Canadian skeleton team, and 15 more athletes that will hop into a Visa bobsleigh on the World Cup circuit this year for men’s and women’s competition.

Headlining the star-studded line-up of athletes, who have won medals at all major international competitions, were the eight skeleton and bobsleigh athletes who inspired the nation by teaming up to win four Olympic medals in February on the track at the Whistler Sliding Centre. Each of the four medallists in women’s bobsleigh, Calgary’s golden bomber Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse of Summerside, P.E.I., along with silver medallists– Helen Upperton, of Calgary, and Shelley-Ann Brown, of Pickering, Ont. – will form a dynamic Canadian charge for the podium. Lyndon Rush, of Humboldt, Sask., who became the first Canadian to win an Olympic four-man bobsleigh medal in more than 40 years when he drove to the bronze medal, will be the lone men’s sled to travel the World Cup this year. Rush’s four-man medal-winning teammates, Calgary’s Chris LeBihan and Edmonton’s David Bissett, will also return to push the Canada 1 sled.

Canada’s golden boy, Jon Montgomery of Russell, Man., will lead the talented men’s skeleton team, while 2006 Olympic bronze medallist and the 2010 Overall World Cup leader, Mellisa Hollingsworth of Eckville, Alta., will look to tackle unfinished business in women’s racing.

“Having an incredibly talented group of athletes that includes nine Olympic medallists ensures Canada will continue to be a force to be reckoned with on the World Cup,” said Don Wilson, chief executive officer, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton. “This is an extremely strong team of athletes that is focused on podium results each time we hit the start line. Our goal does not change this year. We want to replicate our success in 2010, and ultimately, peak at the World Championships in February.”

Joining the women’s bobsleigh athletes, who claimed Canada’s first-ever Olympic medals in the sport which was the only time the maple leaf hung behind two spots on the podium after the thrilling one-two finish, will be newcomer to the World Cup circuit, Melissa These. The Edmontonian will pilot the Canada 3 sled. A quartet of rookie brakeman will also travel the World Cup this year. Edmonton’s Heather Hughes, Diane Kelly, of Chatham, Ont., Montreal’s Marquise Brisebois, and Emily Baadsvik, of Smithers, will gain valuable experience as teammates to the top women’s bobsleigh athletes in the world.

Lyndon Rush, who had a breakthrough season winning his first World Cup races in both the two- and four-man events, will also welcome Edmonton’s Neville Wright, Ottawa’s Cody Sorenson and Calgary’s Justin Wilkinson to the men’s bobsleigh squad.

Canada will once again field one of the deepest skeleton teams in the world following another exciting set of team selection races.

Joining Montgomery on the men’s squad will be 2010 Olympic teammate, Mike Douglas of Toronto, and Calgary’s John Fairbairn. Douglas had two fourth-place finishes on the World Cup last season, while Fairbairn will make his World Cup debut.

Meanwhile, a veteran trio of Canucks will drive for the podium in women’s skeleton action. Hollingsworth, who won the Overall World Cup title after finishing on the podium in six of seven races in 2009-10, will look to rebound from a heartbreaking fifth-place Olympic finish. Hollingsworth will be joined by Olympic teammate Amy Gough, of Abbotsford, B.C., who posted five top-10 finishes on the elite circuit including a silver-medal victory at the World Cup in Park City, Utah last year, and Calgary’s Sarah Reid. The 23-year-old Reid is one of the most promising athletes in the sport, and first Canadian to ever win a Junior World Championship title in skeleton when she accomplished the feat in 2008.

“Canada’s bobsleigh and skeleton athletes will be looking to add to the astonishing total of 184 Olympic, World Championship and World Cup medals won since 2002, as they begin a new track to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. “We want to build on the momentum generated from last season in an effort to continue to recruit more athletes to our sports, while ultimately winning more medals for Canada.”