In her first-ever IBSF World Cup at Sigulda, Latvia, North Vancouver skeleton racer Jane Channell finished just off the podium on Dec. 8.
Channell, a regular at the Whistler Sliding Centre, posted a fourth-place finish that put her 0.57 seconds back of champion Elena Nikitina of Russia. Canadian Elisabeth Maier of Calgary took second while Germany's Tina Hermann ended up in third in the season-opening event.
"I was a bit nervous because I wasn't here for training last week, but I think it was a great week for the team," Channell said in a release. "There were some hits and misses, and of course we always want to do better, but it was a great opening to the (Olympic) quadrennial here in Sigulda. It's a tricky, technical track but it is always nice to come back and slide here."
Maier, who married Austrian bobsledder Benjamin Maier this summer and previously competed as Elisabeth Vathje, was pleased to do well in a rare World Cup stop at the Latvian event.
"This race was so different than many others because basically nobody had home-track advantage," Maier said in a release. "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."
The only other Canadian in the race, Mirela Rahneva of Ottawa, ended up in 12th.
In the men's race on Dec. 7, Canada's highest finisher was Dave Greszczyszyn of Calgary, who ended up in 15th. Kevin Boyer of Sherwood Park, Alta. did not earn a second run and placed 22nd.
Russia's Nikita Tregubov slid to the win ahead of Latvia's Martins Dukurs and South Korea's Sungbin Yun.
No Canadian bobsledders went to compete in the 2018-19 debut.
In the women's race, Germany's Mariama Jamanka and Annika Drazek had the winning time ahead of Russia's Nadezhda Sergeeva and Yulia Belomestnykh and fellow Germans Anna Koehler and Lisa Sophie Gericke.
A pair of men's two-man races were also on tap. In the first, Germany's Francesco Friedrich and Alexander Schueller had the fastest time, ahead of Latvia's Oskars Kibermanis and Matiss Miknis and Austria's Benjamin Maier and Markus Sammer. In the second, Friedrich teamed with Martin Grothkopp to win for the second day in a row, while Kibermanis and Miknis again took second and Germany's Christoph Hafer and Tobias Schneider placed third.