Mirela Rahneva, an Ottawa native who's a familiar face at the Whistler Sliding Centre, took her first International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World Cup win in St. Moritz, Switzerland on Jan. 20.
Rahneva, a 28-year-old in her first season at the top level, posted a two-run time of two minutes, 16.53 seconds (2:16.53) to ascend to the podium's highest step. Her time blew her fellow medallists away, as American Kendall Wesenberg was 1.83 seconds back and Austrian Janine Flock was 1.98 seconds back. Canadian Elisabeth Vathje was two-hundredths of a second off the podium in fourth while North Vancouver's Jane Channell ended up in ninth.
"It means a lot to be able to get my first win on this track. It is such a special place," Rahneva said in a release. "I was really able to focus this week, and I knew what I needed to do on the track. I did all the right little tweaks that we practiced in training and it came together today. I'm overwhelmed and it was a great day."
On the men's side, Barrett Martineau was the lone Canadian to make finals, finishing 11th. Latvia's Martins Dukurs scored the win, holding off South Korea's Sungbin Yun and Russia's Nikita Tregybov. Canadians Dave Greszczyszyn and Kevin Boyer were cut after the first run.
As for the bobsleighs, Kaillie Humphries and Melissa Lotholz suffered a heartbreaker, finishing just a hundredth of a second behind Americans Elana Meyers Taylor and Briauna Jones for gold. To complete the North American sandwich, Jamie Greubel Poser and Lauren Gibbs, also of the U.S., took third.
Chris Spring and Neville Wright were the best Canadian pair in the two-man event, placing 14th, while Nick Poloniato and Derek Plug were 19th. The Justin Kripps and Jesse Lumsden sled just missed the finals cutoff and placed 21st. Germans Johannes Lochner and Christian Rasp took the win, holding off countrymen Francesco Friedrich and Martin Grothkopp. Americans Steven Holcomb and Carlo Valdes placed third.
There was better news in the four-man event, however, as the Spring-piloted sled placed sixth, 0.45 seconds back of the winning sled helmed by Latvia's Oskars Kiebermanis. Latvia was also second, with Oskars Melbardis driving, and Germany's Francesco Friedrich led his squad to third. The Kripps and Poloniato sleds, meanwhile, were 16th and 17th, respectively.
Canadians defend home soil
Mikael Kingsbury wouldn't be denied in his home province.
The Canadian moguls skier dominated FIS moguls competition in Val St. Come, Que. on Jan. 21, knocking off France's Sacha Theocharis and Sweden's Walter Wallberg at the event. Canadians Philippe Marquis and Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh also hit the top 10 in sixth and ninth, respectively. As well, Marc-Antoine Gagne (18th), Laurent Dumais (25th), Luke Ulsifer (27th), Simon Lemieux (32nd), Pemberton's Brenden Kelly (37th), Gabriel Dufresne (40th) and Kerrian Chunlaud (53rd) suited up for Canada.
On the women's side, Canucks took the top four spots, with Justine Dufour-Lapointe, Andi Naude and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe hitting the podium while Audrey Robichaud was just one-hundredth of a point off. Alex-Anne Gagnon, in 10th, and Maxime Dufour-Lapointe, in 16th, also competed.
Read, Guay continue strong seasons
Canadian Erik Read took his fourth FIS World Cup top 10 on Jan. 22.
Competing in the slalom in Kitzbuhel, Austria, Read placed seventh, 1.92 seconds behind winner Marcel Hirscher of Austria. Great Britain's Dave Ryding took second and Russia's Alexander Khoroshilov was third. Fellow Canadian Phil Brown ended up in 23rd.
Veteran Erik Guay also enjoyed his fourth top 10 of the season while in Austria, earning a sixth-place showing in the downhill on Jan. 21, ending up 0.49 seconds behind Italy's Dominik Paris. Frenchmen Valentin Giraud Moine and Johan Clarey took the other two podium spots. Whistler Mountain Ski Club alumnus Manuel Osborne-Paradis was 19th, Benjamin Thomsen took 37th, Jeffrey Frisch was 41st and Whistler's Broderick Thompson found himself 47th.
In the Jan. 20 super-G, Osborne-Paradis was the top Canadian in 14th, 1.34 seconds off the pace set by winner Matthias Mayer of Austria. Mayer held off Italy's Christof Innerhofer and Switzerland's Beat Feuz. Guay, meanwhile, was 20th, while Tyler Werry and Thompson were close, taking 44th and 46th, respectively.
As for the women, Marie-Michele Gagnon was the lone Canadian to make a final this past week, placing 22nd in the giant slalom in Klonplatz, Italy, an even three seconds behind triumphant Italian Federica Brignone. France's Tessa Worley was second and Italy's Marta Bassino was third.
WMSC skiers shine
Whistler was represented at a pair of events last weekend.
A handful of U18 skiers went east to compete at the Alpine Insurance Alberta Cup in Lake Louise against some competition that was older and international.
In the Jan. 20 men's giant slalom, Asher Jordan took a third-place finish, while Kyle Alexander (fifth) and Alexander Valentin (ninth) hit the top 10. In the same event, Ella Renzoni finished sixth among the women.
No locals hit the top 10 in the Jan. 21 slalom, but given another chance, Renzoni took sixth in slalom on Jan. 22, while Dawson Yates climbed into seventh among the men.
A younger U14 contingent went westward to ski at Mount Washington on Jan. 22.
The giant slalom was condensed to a one-run race because of a power failure.
In the men's event, John Nicholls took the win while David Wood ended up in third. Adam Usher (fourth), Graham Seltzer (sixth) and Hayden Harley (seventh) were also among the best 10. As for the women, a Whistler sweep saw Jaden Dawson, Isabella Cross and Sierra Haziza all take home medals, while Holly Clarke (fifth) Kaila Lafreniere (sixth), Sara Stiel (eighth) and Bella Bay (ninth) also ended up in the top 10.
Full results are available at www.live-timing.com.
Some of the club's younger members saw action at home with the Rio Tinto Nancy Green Ski League Festival.
In the 2005 division, the girls swept as Alexa Brownlie, Isabelle Bexton and Chloe Craig claimed the top three spots. Among the boys, Milan Novak and Felix Shorter took first and third, respectively.
In the 2006 division, Viveka Deck Stang was the top performer, while Joseph James Gibbons was second among the boys.
Lastly, among the 2007s, Thomas Legg was the top boys skiers.
Chairman Jason Shorter said in an email that the 166 skiers had plenty of fun as part of the two days of skiing. He was also appreciative of the "army of volunteers" who came together and made the event a success.
Warm makes NHL Central Scouting list
There was a little Whistler content when National Hockey League Central Scouting released its midseason rankings last week.
Will Warm, a defenceman with the Western Hockey League's Edmonton Oil Kings, cracked the list, ranking 154th among North American skaters.
The 17-year-old has seven goals and 12 assists in 45 games so far this season.
"Will has been a player that has kind of been under the radar all year, he's been a real effective player for us in all facets of the game," Oil Kings assistant coach Ryan Marsh told the Edmonton Journal in a Jan. 21 story. "He scores some big goals for us, he adds some offence from the blue line he defends real hard, he defends well, he plays hard. What I love about Will is his compete (level)."
The 2017 NHL Entry Draft takes place June 23 and 24 in Chicago.
Hoopsters earning provincial recognition
A couple of Sea to Sky girls' basketball teams are turning some heads on a provincial level.
In the most recent rankings posted to B.C. Hoop Scoop on Jan. 22, the Whistler Zippies junior girls' team clocked in as the fourth-best side in all of B.C.
Meanwhile, the Pemberton Red Devils senior girls' squad earned an honourable mention in the 'A' division, placing just outside the top 10.