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Channell takes season-best sixth in Igls

Skeleton racer part of Canadian charge in Austria



After a breakthrough season in 2015-16 where she finished third overall in the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation standings, Jane Channell hasn't recaptured the same magic this year.

The 28-year-old North Vancouver skeleton racer has made some small strides this season after a rough start, taking a campaign-best sixth at the World Cup race at Igls, Austria on Feb. 3.

Even with her second top-10 finish of the season, Channell said in an email there were still some extra seconds on her time.

"Placing sixth is bittersweet. I made a mistake in each run that cost me time so I know I could have done better, but it's also my best result of the year so I shouldn't be upset," she reasoned. "Igls is a pusher's track so I knew leading up to this race that I needed to be in top form. I ended up pushing a new personal best time which helped me and my result."

The season opened here at Whistler Sliding Centre, Channell's home track. After a 16th-place finish she pinpointed equipment issues as a major cause of the disappointment, but they've continued to cast a pall on the year.

However, she is seeing some progress going into next week's World Championships.

"It's a confidence boost heading into World Champs. I've been struggling with my equipment and relaxing on my sled so having a decent result is definitely reassuring. Coming back to Königssee after the first race, I know where I made mistakes and I'm looking forward to fixing and correcting them for Worlds," she wrote.

Though 2016-17 may be a step back in the overall table, Channell explained that she's becoming stronger in other ways that can hopefully help her later on in her career.

"I feel like this season has been a true test for me. (It's been) a test of my health, skills, learning capabilities, patience, perseverance... everything. Race by race, I'm working on my driving, form and technique. As long as I keep learning, I know that it is all accumulating and I just have to trust the process," she wrote.

In Igls, Channell was one of three Canadians in the top six of the women's event, as breakout rookie Mirela Rahneva placed second behind Germany's Tina Hermann, sitting 0.16 seconds back, and ahead of bronze medallist Janine Flock. Elisabeth Vathje, another Canadian, was fifth.

"To have all three Canadians in the top 6 is a pretty incredible thing.  It shows how strong and deep our program is. We are all strong sliders and it's thanks to our coach, Ivo Pakalns, who has helped to bring out the best in all of us," Channell wrote. "We are hoping that this is just one instance that proves and shows that we, Canada as a whole, have medal potential and that this will help to bring some much-needed funding back to our program."

On the men's side, Barrett Martineau was the top Canadian in Igls, placing 17th, while Kevin Boyer was 22nd and Dave Greszczyszyn was 25th. Latvia's Martins Dukurs took the win, knocking off Russia's Alexander Tretiakov and South Korea's Sungbin Yun.

As for the bobsledders, Kaillie Humphries and Melissa Lotholz slid to a second-place finish behind Americans Elana Meyers Taylor and Lolo Jones, while Americans Jamie Greubel Poser and Aja Evans completed the North American sandwich. Alyssia Rissling and Genevieve Thibault placed ninth while Christine de Bruin and Catherine Medeiros were 11th.

In the two-man event, Justin Kripps and Jesse Lumsden placed fifth, just five-hundredths of a second off the podium. Germany's Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis snagged the win, followed by Latvia's Oskars Melbardis and Janis Strenga and Austria's Benjamin Maier and Markus Sammer. Chris Spring led his sled to a 13th-place finish while Nick Poloniato's was 18th.

In the four-man, Kripps guided his sled into seventh, while Spring took 13th and Poloniato 22nd.