Nick Poloniato officially made the jump to Canada's World Cup bobsleigh roster late last month, becoming the program's third pilot alongside Justin Kripps and Chris Spring.
He instilled a little more confidence in Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton's decision with a pair of podium appearances in North American Cup action here in Whistler last week. Poloniato took a win in two-man action on Nov. 24 with Timothy Randall and a third-place in four-man the next day with Randall, Derek Plug and Keenan Macdougall. In the second four-man race, Poloniato took fifth with Plug, Macdougall and Daniel Sunderland.
"It felt pretty good. I've had quite a lot of training runs here this year because we were here earlier in the year. It's definitely a huge advantage being here when a lot of people hadn't been here," he said. "The evaluation races we had here went so well for me and my team, so I feel confident going into the big race this week."
Russia's Alexander Kasjanov had a strong week, winning both four-man events as well as the Nov. 23 two-man.
In women's action, Canadian Alysia Rissling won both events. Julie Johnson and Christine de Bruin were fifth and sixth, respectively, in the first race, and Kennedy Bailey was 15th. In the second race, de Bruin took seventh and Bailey 14th.
Next up for Poloniato is the IBSF World Cup here this weekend. He noted it's unusual to get back-to-back races in a venue leading into such a major event, but he's embracing it.
"It's a lot more of an advantage for the teams that came over and had the extra training. We're definitely set up well for the World Cup," the Hamilton, Ont. native said. "This is the first World Cup team I've been named to and it's an accumulation of all the years of hard work and all of the coaching and growth that I've had with driving.
"I'm really, really happy that they're giving me this opportunity this year because I feel like I'm ready and I feel like I've earned it."
Dec. 2 will offer women's skeleton at 2 p.m. and two-man bobsleigh at 6 p.m. while Dec. 3 will see men's skeleton at 10 a.m., women's bobsleigh at 2 p.m. and four-man bobsleigh at 6 p.m.
Reid hopes to build
West Vancouver's Parker Reid, who calls Whistler Sliding Centre his home track, took a 17th-place finish in the two-man event on Nov. 23 with Dylan Kucheravy serving as his brakeman.
It was the 16-year-old's most prestigious competition in the two-man — he went to Lillehammer, Norway to compete in the Youth Olympic Games in the mono-bobsleigh event last year — and he put up a solid showing, finishing just three places behind top Canadian Taylor Austin.
"Most of the people there are World Cup athletes, so I feel pretty good about my placement," he said. "Overall, (it was) not that bad.
"I was excited. I wanted to see how I placed against some of them on my home track. It was a cool experience."
While Reid would have liked a higher result, he knows he still has room to grow and his time will come.
"I am younger than most of the athletes there, and over the years I'll become slightly bigger, faster, stronger, so I'll feel pretty good about it," he said.
Reid said he plans to primarily focus on two-man this year and hopes to get a four-man team together as well.
Reid plans to attend the other North American Cup races in Park City, Utah and Lake Placid, N.Y. later this season.
Rahneva captures skeleton win
Ottawa's Mirela Rahneva, meanwhile, impressed in skeleton action.
In the Nov. 25 race, Rahneva took the win by 0.17 seconds over Russia's Maria Orlova. She then took third the next day to repeat her podium performance.
In the Nov. 25 race, Madison Charney was ninth and Grace Dafoe 11th while both improved to fifth and seventh, respectively, in the second event.
As for the men, Patrick Rooney had a hard-luck weekend, finishing just off the podium in fourth on both days. Mark Lynch placed 11th on Nov. 25, while Kyle Murray and Andy White were 16th and 17th, respectively. The next day, Lynch jumped to 10th, Murray to 11th and White to 16th.