Canadian bobsledders got off to winning starts — literally — just days before their World Cup sliding campaigns will get underway at home this weekend.
Jesse Lumsden and Heather Moyse were the men's and women's winners of the inaugural World Push Challenge held Nov. 21 at the WinSport Ice House in Calgary, which pitted some of the World Cup circuit's top brakemen against each other.
Athletes pushed a two-man sled by themselves on the track at the Ice House, the world's only indoor push-start training facility, looking to set the fastest start times.
Lumsden's time of 5.004 seconds put him ahead of runner-up and fellow Canadian Lacelles Brown in the final. U.S. team member Chris Fogt finished third and Canada's Neville Wright was just off the podium in fourth.
Moyse stopped the clock at 5.550 seconds. She was flanked on the podium by Judith Vis and Sanne Dekker, both of the Netherlands. Canadian athlete Ashley Shumate finished fifth.
Lumsden and Moyse each picked up an estimated $6,500 in cash and prizes for finishing first, plus a title belt.
"It feels good, it's good to set the tone," said Lumsden. "It's a fun event and all the athletes had a great time. Now we are just looking forward to getting to the top of the hill to do some bobsledding."
The first FIBT World Cup bobsleigh and skeleton races take place Nov. 29 and 30 in Calgary.
Saints settle for second
The Whistler Saints came up short in their championship game on Sunday, Nov. 24, as the North Vancouver Raiders handed Whistler a 20-8 defeat in the North Shore Football League's flag division final.
Liam Forsyth had the lone Saints touchdown in the loss, while Logan Anderson made good on the two-point kick after. Josh McKenzie was a standout on defence with a touchdown-saving interception, but it wasn't enough to stop the Raiders on Sunday.
"It was a fantastic season," said head coach Ralph Forsyth. "It was disappointing to lose, for sure. They tried really hard and practiced so hard all season, but I'm sure proud of them."
The Raiders were the only team to topple the Saints this season, handing them their only loss during the regular season as well.
Seven players on the Whistler squad will be old enough for tackle football next season. There weren't enough players to form Sea to Sky squads in older NSFL divisions this year, but coach Forsyth expects many of the players on the 2013 Saints to be playing peewee-level football next fall.
Other players on the Saints roster included Josh Wheeler, Griffin Brown, Taiki Auger, Kai Auger, Ambrose Vollmer, Quinn Goertzen, Benyon McKeen, A.J. Lacroix and Marlowe Gaddes.
Skaters strong at Jingle Blades