After a trying week for Russia's bobsleigh and skeleton program, the country's athletes got something to cheer for at the BMW IBSF World Cup at the Whistler Sliding Centre.
Alexander Kasjanov piloted a sled of Ilver Khuzin, Vasiliy Kondratenko and Aleksei Pushkarev to victory on Saturday afternoon, just days after two Russian bobsledders, including double gold medallist Alexander Zubkov, were banned for life by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for doping at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. As well, four Russian skeleton athletes named in the IOC's Oswald Commission were provisionally suspended by the IBSF. The athletes have a right to a hearing.
Kasjanov and his team bested Great Britain's Lamin Deen, Ben Simons, Toby Olubi and Andrew Matthews. In their first run, the Britons smashed the track record previously set by the late American pilot Steven Holcomb by 0.2 seconds, but the Russians were only 0.02 seconds back and quickly passed Team Deen when it struggled in its second run.
Still, Deen said taking second for his first-ever World Cup medal was a sweet feeling.
"We're fantastic. It's the best result ever for us," he said. "We've got the speed record. That's going to stay for a while, no one's going to beat that," Deen added with a laugh.
Deen credited his teammates and said they executed well for the most part, aside from a couple mistakes in the second heat.
The German sled of Nico Walther, Kevin Kuske, Kevin Korona and Eric Franke was third, nicking the Canadian sled of Justin Kripps, Alex Kopacz, Jesse Lumsden and Oluseyi Smith from the podium.
"We were hoping to do a little better. We were seeded pretty well," he said. "We just couldn't find the speed down the track.
"We still got a pretty good result without having that speed, but we've got to take a little look at our equipment setup and look at regroup for the next race."