Mirela Rahneva found sweet redemption in her return to the 2022 Olympic track, winning bronze medal at the World Cup opener on Nov. 17 in Yanqing, China.
The 35-year-old tamed the unique “Sleeping Dragon” venue with a two-run time of two minutes and 3.99 seconds.
“I left Beijing with some unfinished business [in 2022]. I didn’t get to go back after Pyeongchang so to be able to come and race here again, and have two good runs feels really good,” said Rahneva in a press release. “I loved seeing the Canada flag go up. I would have loved to see it go up in a different position, but I’ll take it!
"I do love this track. It’s a lot of single-pressure swoopy corners. You go up really high, exit and feel acceleration out of the single pressure corners. It also has a few straightaways and I mastered those. I also love the fact there is so much thought put into this track. It is built so well, there is so much emotion in it that I think I relate to.”
The Ottawa resident threw down a track record to open the four-run Olympic race in 2022 where she ended up in fifth. Last Friday, she rocketed to third-place times in both heats to secure the 14th World Cup podium of her career.
Germany's Tina Hermann, the reigning World Cup overall champ, squeaked out the gold medal (2:03.81). China’s Dan Zhao was two one-hundredths of a second back in silver medal position (2:03.83).
Rahneva's two-time Olympic teammate, Jane Channell, stopped the clock at 2:07.80 for 12th. Hallie Clarke, who recently returned to Team Canada after a stint with the American skeleton program, finished 15th (2:08.20).
It has been quite a run for Rahneva since Beijing 2022. Last season, she captured her first ever World Championship podium, another bronze. That breakthrough capped off a season that included a victory and a second-place, earning the veteran slider a Crystal Globe for placing third amidst the 2022-23 World Cup rankings.
Furthermore, Rahneva has joined bobsledder Cynthia Appiah as the new athlete representatives for Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton (BCS).
“This year, it is about regaining the joy and gratitude I have for skeleton. I am realizing I can’t do this forever,” said Rahneva. “I’m in it this year to love the sport for what it is and be grateful for the opportunity I have to represent Canada. Any time your flag goes up, it is a good moment."
Team Canada will now return home before heading to Europe for two events prior to the holiday break: La Plagne, France (December 8-10) and Igls, Austria (December 15-17).