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Channell reflects on first Olympics

Skeleton racer performed well, but couldn't find the results she wanted



It was just one of those races.

North Vancouver's Jane Channell, the Whistler Sliding Centre's first skeleton legacy athlete, was satisfied with how she raced, but ultimately ended up in 10th place after four runs at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea.

"Results are something I can't control, but with regards to how my runs went, I'm really happy with them. I had the fastest start in all four heats and I had four consistent runs with my fourth run being close to perfect," she said. "I can't be upset with that."

In her third visit to the Alpensia Sliding Centre, the 29-year-old said it still remained formidable. Channell and the other two Canadians were tightly bunched as Elisabeth Vathje was a spot ahead of her in ninth, while Mirela Rahneva was two back in 12th.

Over the four runs, Channell's first two intervals were podium-worthy, but the advantage started to fade in the three subsequent checkpoints.

"The track itself is so different than any other track out there. It's a really, really technical track and it's a challenge," she said. "We did the best we could and I don't think any of us have anything to be ashamed of."

Channell's family was there to support her during the skeleton race on Feb. 16, but after her on-track commitments, she got to see magic moments for Canada, like Justin Kripps' and Alex Kopacz's two-man bobsleigh gold, as well as some American-caused heartbreakers, like the Canadian women's shootout loss in the gold-medal hockey game and the Kevin Koe rink's defeat in the men's curling semifinals.

"It was so exciting to see all these other athletes competing in their events, what they specialize in. For example, I'd never seen big air in person before, and it's so much different than it is on TV," she said.

And being in attendance for Kripps' bobsleigh win (a tie with Germany's Francesco Friedrich) was also a fond memory.

"It was, by far, one of the most exciting bobsled races I've ever seen. It was funny because when Kripps crossed the finish line, the number wasn't green, wasn't red. It was grey, 0.00. It took everybody a second or two to realize what just happened," she said. "It was an unreal moment."

Kripps was unable to repeat in the four-man event. He sat just out of podium position in fourth at the midpoint but slipped to sixth overall. Friedrich won his second gold over South Korea's Yunjong Won and Nico Walther, who tied for silver. Nick Poloniato piloted his sled to 12th and Chris Spring's steed placed 16th.

Elsewhere at the Games, the women's ski-cross race was perhaps a little bittersweet at a time when the rest of the nation was triumphant. Canada retained its iron grip on the podium — having won all three golds and five of nine overall medals since it was introduced in 2010 — as Kelsey Serwa and Brittany Phelan took the top two spots in the large final while Switzerland's Fanny Smith was third.

However, Whistler's Marielle Thompson, the 2014 champion, fell in her first heat after posting the fastest qualifying time a day earlier. It was Thompson's first race after suffering a serious knee injury in training before the season in October and getting back in time for the Olympics was a feat.

"I'm obviously disappointed with how the race went today, especially having won seeding yesterday, but the fact that I know I can ski fast like I did yesterday is big," Thompson told the Alpine Canada website after the race. "I'm really proud that I was able to race here and compete for Canada, so that was an accomplishment in itself."

After the high of Serwa's and Phelan's medals, as well as Brady Leman's gold earlier in the Games, the ski-cross team left PyeongChang under a cloud when Whistler-based Dave Duncan, his wife Maja and coach Willy Raine were arrested after drunkenly stealing a Hummer in PyeongChang.

All three were fined, with the Duncans each receiving a $1,176 fine and Raine, the driver, receiving a $5,880 fine, according to CBC.

All three released statements of apology through the Canadian Olympic Committee.

"We are deeply sorry. We engaged in behaviour that demonstrated poor judgment and was not up to the standards expected of us as Members of the Canadian Olympic Team or as Canadians," the Duncans' statement read.

"Words are not enough to express how sorry I am," Raine's statement said. "I have let my teammates, friends and my family down. I would also like to apologize to the owner of the vehicle that was involved."

Canada ultimately wrapped the Games with its best medal haul ever, with 29 total medals, including 11 gold. Only Norway (39) and Germany (31) won more.


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