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Hallie Clarke becomes youngest-ever woman to win skeleton World Championships

The Whistler Sliding Centre-based athlete is just 19 years old
19-year-old Hallie Clarke became the youngest woman ever to win a skeleton World Championship in Winterberg, Germany on Feb. 23, 2024.

Hallie Clarke just slid her name into history as the youngest woman ever to clinch a skeleton World Championship title.

The 19-year-old became the fifth Canadian to land atop a worlds podium when she shocked the field on Feb. 23 in Winterberg, Germany. No one could match her four-run time of three minutes and 51.27 seconds.

Belgium’s Kim Meylemans locked up silver (3:51.49), while Germany’s Hannah Neise claimed bronze (3:51.53).

“It’s crazy. It still feels like a dream. It was my goal today to just have fun no matter what,” said Clarke in a press release. “I never expected to be in this position. I have been very nervous. I’m still shaking from all the adrenaline, but I just tried to remind myself that I love sliding and racing.”

Michelle Kelly is the only other woman to triumph at a World Championships for Canada. She accomplished the feat in 2003 at Nagano, Japan. Three Canadian men also have worlds crowns: Jeff Pain (2005 Calgary), Duff Gibson (2004 Konigssee, Germany), and Ryan Davenport (1997 Lake Placid, 1996 Calgary).

Gibson and Pain finished one-two at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games.

How it happened

Clarke, who also won the 2023 Junior World Championships in Winterberg, had a lead of only three one-hundredths of a second after the first two runs on Thursday. Yet, the soft-spoken Canuck saved her best for last.

Tied at the top with Neise after putting down the second-fastest run in the penultimate heat, Clarke clocked the fastest effort of the competition (56.93 seconds) in the final heat.

"I love the gliders' track feeling of Winterberg, but I really don’t have a lot of experience here, so it was a bit of a surprise yesterday to be in contention to be a World Champion," explained Clarke. "There was a lot of nerves that continued into the night and the morning, but having family and all of the team around reminding me of why I do this and to have fun was very important. 

"I kept reminding myself why I started to do this in the first place – because it is fun – and no matter what happened today I had the time of my life yesterday." 

World Cup skeleton contests normally consist of two runs. The Olympics and World Championship races involve four runs held over two days.

Other Canadians in action included seventh-place finisher Mirela Rahneva and Jane Channell in 11th.

Blake Enzie was the only Canadian in the men’s skeleton race, winding up 24th. Germany’s Christopher Grotheer won the men’s title (3:44.91).

The IBSF World Championships continue on Saturday with the skeleton mixed team event. Full results for women and men are available online.