Rahneva sets new start mark at WSC 

Skeleton racer also picks up pair of bronzes

click to flip through (2) PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON - wild thornbury New Zealand skeleton athlete Rhys Thornbury impressed by pulling off two wins in as many days in North American Cup action at Whistler Sliding Centre on Nov. 26 and 27.
  • Photo by Dan Falloon
  • wild thornbury New Zealand skeleton athlete Rhys Thornbury impressed by pulling off two wins in as many days in North American Cup action at Whistler Sliding Centre on Nov. 26 and 27.
 
 

Her starts were magnificent.

The endings weren't too bad either.

After a challenging beginning to the season, Canadian skeleton racer Mimi Rahneva seems to be back on track after a pair of third-place showings on the IBSF North American Cup circuit at Whistler Sliding Centre on Nov. 26 and 27.

In the second race, Rahneva also made a little track history, setting the record for best start with a push of 4.85 seconds in her second run. On a day where many sliders were finding themselves a split-second slower, Rahneva ramped up the intensity and set the mark after a pair of 4.94 starts.

"I had a thought in my mind yesterday that I didn't push so well in my first race. In my second race, I wanted to go for the record. I wanted to break the record," she said. "I dreamt it in my head and I visualized and I pictured it and I did it! I think that goes for anything — if you think of it, you dream of it, you push for it, you can achieve it."

Rahneva acknowledged that after seeing course conditions that seemed to be working against her, she almost abandoned the intense push, but reassured herself and went for it anyway.

"At first, I didn't think I would do so well. When the forerunners go, we watch the grooves to see what the grooves do to the forerunner," the Ottawa resident said. "I usually use the left groove and it shot both forerunners right really hard and they almost hit the bottleneck. At the last minute, I had to switch to the right groove, which I haven't pushed in. In skeleton, only one runner sits in the groove, so when you're off-groove, you have a higher probability of popping out.

"It was a last-minute decision — should I be taking it easy? But I figured it's Whistler, it's got good grooves, good ice, go for it."

Rahneva explained her strong start made the top of the track easier, but she encountered difficulties in the middle section and dropped 1.22 seconds back behind winner Katie Uhlaender of the United States and Canadian teammate Jaclyn Laberge, who was the runner-up both days. American Savannah Graybill won the first of the two races.

Rahneva's season hit a few bumps from the get-go, as she was at the bottom of the Canadian pack at nationals. But with a pair of bronze medals to her name, she's feeling good as she heads over to Altenberg, Germany for Europa Cup action.

"I had a rough time in selections. I came last, because the Canadians are so good here," she said. "I'm kind of a rookie at it and it's feeling good now. I can do it. I know I can. The next step is to dream bigger."

Thornbury impresses with pair of wins

Kiwi slider Rhys Thornbury made his mark in his first international competition at the track, running off with a pair of gold medals.

In the first race, Thornbury bested Australian John Farrow by 0.70 seconds while knocking off Japan's Katsuyuki Miyajima by 0.67 seconds the following day. Farrow and Miyajima swapped positions from the first day to the second and claimed two medals apiece.

"I thought I could pull together some good race runs with a good push and (in the first race) I managed to do that," he said. "(The second race) was a bit tougher because you're a bit more tired after racing (the previous day). The push wasn't quite as good the first run and it was really close between me and John Farrow.

"But second run, I just managed to keep consistency. It paid off today and it's nice to get the win again."

Mitch McCullough was the top Canadian both days, posting a sixth-place showing in the first race before slipping a spot to seventh the next day.

Thornbury will remain in Whistler to compete in the Intercontinental Cup races on Dec. 2 and 3 and is set to return for the World Cup event Jan. 22 and 23.

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