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Sports briefs

Skeleton athletes in the medals at World Cup opener


Melissa Hollingsworth kicked off her World Cup skeleton season with the fourth win of her career at Lake Placid this past weekend. She posted the fastest time in both runs to take the victory.

"Training definitely didn't indicate the outcome this week, but I woke up today and decided I wanted to win today," she said of her 18 th career podium.

"My top goal is to head to the Olympics in Whistler and wear the number one bib like I did four years ago (heading into the 2006 Games)."

Her two-run time was 1:54.85. Shelley Rudman of Great Britain placed second with a combined time of 1:55.08, while Germany's Marion Trott was a close third in 1:55.13.

Two other Canadians made the top-eight, with Amy Gough of Abbotsford sixth and Michelle Kelly in a tie for seventh.

The Canadians are working to rank among the top two nations in the world prior to the Games, which would guarantee them three spots in the Olympics.

The men's team was less successful. Jon Montgomery was the top Canadian, in 12 th place. Jeff Pain was 13 th and Mike Douglas 17 th . German sliders Frank Rommel and Sandro Stielicke were first and second with Latvia's Martins Dukurs capturing the bronze.

The women's team also led the way in the two-person bobsleigh on Saturday. Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse won a bronze medal behind two German sleds. Cathleen Martini and Romy Logsch placed first, followed by Sandra Kiriasis and Janine Tischer.

Rounding out the top-12, Canadians Helen Upperton and Shelley-Ann Brown were sixth while Amanda Stepenko and Amanda Moreley were 12 th .

The men's bobsleigh teams came close with the team of Pierre Lueders and David Bisett placing fourth. Lyndon Rush and Lascelles Brown were seventh.

The top two teams were American, with John Napier and Charles Berkeley in first and Steven Holcomb and Justin Olsen second. Ivo Rueegg and Roman Hendschin of Switzerland were third.

The final event was the four-man bobsleigh on Sunday. Both Canadian teams placed in the top10 with the team of Lyndon Rush, Chris Le Bihan, Dan Humphries and Bregg Bresciani placing seventh. The team of Pierre Lueders, Ken Kotyk, David Bissett and Justin Kripps placed ninth.

The USA 1 sled placed first, followed by USA 2 and Austria 1.


Lugers surprise at World Cup

Canada's luge team has made steady progress in recent years, from middle of the pack to the top 15 and occasionally top10. Now, less than three months out from the 2010 Olympics the team is showing that it is capable of contending for medals as well.

The World Cup opener took place in Calgary this past weekend with a strong team performance. Five out of nine sliders placed in the top-10.

Sam Edney led the way with a fifth place finish, his best result to date in a World Cup event.

"I am absolutely thrilled," he said. "I have worked extremely hard this summer and this proves I have done all the right things to prepare me to race with the top sliders. I have been fast in training all week and I just wanted two consistent runs so this is a great start to the season for me."

Jeff Christie also managed a top-10 result, placing ninth overall, while Brendan Hauptman placed 22 nd .

Top of the podium went to Armin Zoggeler of Italy, followed by David Moller of Germany and Albert Demtschenko of Russia.

Two women also cracked the top-10 with Alex Gough finishing sixth and Regan Lauscher 10 th . Meaghan Simister was 17 th and Denae Delcourt 23 rd .


Wolf Pack pick up two wins

The Squamish Wolf Pack have a long way to go to meet their goal of a playoff berth, but the team picked up two wins and an overtime loss in their last three games to pull within six points of the Delta Ice Hawks in their conference.

The Wolf Pack had lost three in a row heading into their Nov. 18 match-up against the Aldergrove Kodiaks, which they took by a 5-3 score. Squamish started in a 2-1 hole after the first period, but managed to come out of the second period with a 3-3 tie. They scored two unanswered goals in the third period as they racked up an incredible 53 shots on net compared to Aldergrove's 33. Brandon Pfeil scored a hat trick for the Wolf Pack, while Macolm Gould added a goal and two assists and Micahel Mackie-Kwist a goal and an assist. Jake Charles had two assists.

Their next game was a four-pointer against the Delta Ice Hawks last Saturday, which Squamish took by a 5-1 score. Whistler's Josh Schaubroeck was the first star in that game with a goal and an assist, and solid play at both ends of the rink. Other Squamish goals went to Jake Charles, Michael Ondzik, Malcolm Gould and Michael Mackie-Kwist.

The team came out flat against the Mission Icebreakers on Sunday and let in three unanswered goals at the start of the game before finding their feet again. Squamish managed two goals in the last five minutes to get within a goal, then scored the only goal of the second period to tie the game 3-3. Both teams added goals in the final period to send the game to overtime and a shootout.

Squamish has had trouble with the shootout all season, and Sunday was no exception. Mission took the win and two points while Squamish settled for one point and an overtime loss.

The Wolf Pack play the Richmond Sockeyes on Thursday night, then return home on Saturday for a rematch against the Aldergrove Kodiaks. The puck drops at 7:15 p.m. at Brennan Park arena and tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for seniors and teens.

The Wolf Pack will also get another shot at the Ice Hawks on Dec. 1, which is a must-win if they hope to pull even in the conference.


Gimpl is a big air superstar

While the world focuses on Olympic sports and athletes, Austrian snowboarder Stefan Gimpl is quietly setting new records in World Cup big air events with three wins in a row to his credit.

His most recent win was in Stockholm, Sweden on Nov. 21 with a field of 54 athletes taking part. He also has wins in Barcelona and London.

Three wins also makes five in a row for Gimpl, who won the last two events in the 2008-09 season. His worst result in the past two seasons is fourth place.

Gimpl now sits on top of the FIS snowboard rankings with 3,000 points, although there has been just one halfpipe and snowboardcross contest so far and just two alpine events.