Canadian sliders on top at Lake Placid 

Three medals on opening day for skeleton, bobsleigh athletes

click to enlarge ANDREW MITCHELL - Kaillie Humphries (second from left) celebrates her Bobsleigh win in Whistler last February.
  • Andrew Mitchell
  • Kaillie Humphries (second from left) celebrates her Bobsleigh win in Whistler last February.

All's well that begins well for Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, which is opening its 2013 World Cup season at Lake Placid, New York this weekend.

The Canadians got off to a big start with Sara Reid and Melissa Hollingsworth finishing first and second in women's skeleton, while Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries and brakewoman Chelsea Valois claimed gold in women's bobsleigh.

It was Sarah Reid's first World Cup podium in 10 years of sliding.

"I am over the moon," said Reid of her result. "There was so much excitement at the track and it was so loud at the start line that I just fed off that.

"I was surprised leading after yesterday, but I always felt like I've known that I'm capable of sliding with these very talented girls. This tells me that I can be there too, and I'm pretty stoked."

Times were incredibly close with Reid taking gold after three runs and a combined time of 2:47.70, followed by Hollingsworth in 2:47.73 and Marion Thees of Germany in 2:47.83.

"Today was all about Sarah," said Hollingsworth. "Going up the track I told Sarah that everyone here, including me, is rooting for you to win. I am just so incredibly happy for her."

Hollingsworth has been Canada's top skeleton athlete for almost two decades, and has 32 medals to her credit.

The other Canadian in the race was Cassie Hawrysh, who is filling in while Amy Gough is sidelined with symptoms of a concussion. However, Hawrysh won 10 medals in 11 starts on the America's Cup and Europa Cup tours last season, and debuted by placing 11th in the world.

In the men's heat, John Fairbairn narrowly missed a spot in the third and final race by placing 11th after the first two runs. Olympic gold medallist Jon Montgomery wasn't too far behind after taking last season off to train, placing 12th in the opening race. Eric Neilson of Kelowna was 16th for Canada.

The podium was a family affair with Martins Dukurs and Tomass Dukurs of Latvia placing first and second, with Alexander Trejyakov in third.

The women's bobsleigh teams raced the afternoon after the third women's skeleton race, with the Canada 1 sled - Humphries and Valois - placing first overall by half a second over the top two U.S. women's teams.

"We had a few issues today so there is lots of room for improvement, but Chelsea continues to show so much potential," said Humphries. "I am very happy with the setup of our Eurotech sled. It was just a really good start today, and I am looking forward to keeping things going."

It was Humphries fifth World Cup victory, and picks up where she left off with a gold medal in the championship last season - also at Lake Placid.

"There are a few tracks that like me better than most," she said. "I learned to drive here in Lake Placid so I think we have a special bond. It is a driver's track and that is what I love about it. But I think there is some extra comfort racing in North America where everything is a little more familiar."

Jenny Ciochetti, Humphries brakewoman at worlds, is piloting her own sled this year and finished her day in 11th place.

In the men's two-man race, the Canada 1 team - Lyndon Rush and Jesse Lumsden - was seventh while Chris Spring and Ben Coakwell were 13th, and Justin Kripps and Nick Carrie placed 15th.

The men's four-man bobsleigh race takes place on Saturday, Nov. 10.

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