Canadians have dominated the top step of the bobsleigh podium through two days of the 2023 IBSF North American Cup in Whistler, with Carter Malyk and Melissa Lotholz holding down gold for the home front. Erica Voss added to her medal streak as well, clinching bronze.
Going into this week, Malyk was expected to be (at best) Canada's no. 3 pilot behind Beijing Olympic veteran Taylor Austin and Patrick Norton. Instead, the Team Alberta product upstaged his older teammates with a second straight win in two-man bobsleigh.
Ottawa Redblacks wide receiver Keaton Bruggeling, who joined Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton (BCS) this winter, pushed Malyk to victory in one minute and 46.33 seconds. Kristopher Horn and Adrian Adams of the United States earned silver (1:48.08), and Israelis Adam Edelman and Jason Dunn snagged bronze (1:48.32).
Austin and DeVaughn McEwan found themselves in fourth place (1:49.04).
Meanwhile, Lotholz stood atop the women's monobob podium again (1:52.39), besting Victoria Cernanska of Slovakia (1:52.81) and Voss (1:52.98). Another Canadian, Mackenzie Stewart, was fourth (1:53.84).
The two-man teams have had a rough go so far, with six crashes on opening day. It was a cleaner race all around on Thursday, but there were still a few fender-benders around corners 11, 12 and 13: an especially technical part of the lightning-fast Whistler Sliding Centre (WSC) track. One such mishap essentially ended Austin and McEwan's medal hopes.
Malyk, though, was locked in.
"Feeling good," said the Calgarian after his race. "I was feeling confident, came in, no expectations, just trying to do our best and lay down two runs each day. We executed and came home with the gold.
"I just stayed within myself, in my own zone and in my own thoughts. Crashes don't really faze me. I just try and stay focused on what I need to do, what I can control."
For her part, Lotholz feels that her two victories have not been representative of mastery in Whistler.
"The weather conditions here made for some really fast and difficult ice," commented Lotholz. "It's a really good challenge. It's one of those days that makes everybody better. The track won today—even though I won, my runs definitely had room for improvement. Some of those top corners where you can get a lot of speed, is where I want to be really consistent. I was struggling in monobob out of corner seven a bit, so that's a corner that I want to make sure is really consistent going into the two-woman race."
Voss likewise has had to push herself to rise to the occasion in Whistler.
"I was really just proud of myself for continuing to fight. There were a lot of crashes and it can make you really nervous when you're sitting in the top and seeing experienced drivers crash.
"Being close to crashing pretty much seven out of eight of the last runs I've taken in the monobob has been a really tough mental challenge. I just tried to focus on the process. I know how to push well and focus on technical things, and trust in my abilities. If I do what's within my control, I will make it down."
The North American Cup continues Friday at 10 a.m. with men's and women's skeleton. Learn more here.