Latvians top men's skeleton podium 

Canada's Greszczyszyn slides to career-best finish

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON - Wait for me Canada's Dave Greszyzyszyn prepares to load onto his sled during IBSF World Cup skeleton action at the Whistler Sliding Centre on Jan. 23.
  • Photo by Dan Falloon
  • Wait for me Canada's Dave Greszyzyszyn prepares to load onto his sled during IBSF World Cup skeleton action at the Whistler Sliding Centre on Jan. 23.

A couple of Latvian skeleton racers duked it out at the Whistler Sliding Centre on Saturday.

The Dukurs brothers both set new track records at the BMW IBSF World Cup skeleton race at various points, dropping Canadian Jon Montgomery's mark of 52.20 seconds, which he set during the 2010 Olympics.

Martins Dukurs, the eventual champion who has now won all six races this season, got in on the action early with his 52.15 time, though Tomass bested that with his second run of 52.11.

With a stout 0.33-second advantage heading into the second run, Martins held on for the win with a combined time of one minute, 44.31 seconds (1:44.31) to hold off his brother by 0.28 seconds. Korean's Sungbin Yun was third, 0.93 seconds off the pace.

Dave Greszczyszyn was the top Canadian in fifth, 1.37 seconds back, while Barrett Martineau improved his second run to jump from 11th to eighth. Both results were career bests. Evan Neufeldt did not qualify for a second run.

Martins Dukurs acknowledged even with his cushion, there was little room for error after his brother laid down the gauntlet.

"I'm happy that I stayed in first place," he said. "Second run, flying through curve 11 I made a mistake.

"I'm happy that I put together a more or less solid run compared to training."

Brother Tomass, meanwhile, was happy to have done so well here considering the level of difficulty.

"I'm happy because on this track, it's really, really hard to get a good run," he said. "Starting from the push, everything went to plan."

Though Martins acknowledged Whistler isn't high up on his list of favourite stops on the circuit, Tomass said he likes the challenge setups like Whistler provide, as he believes they help to determine the best competitors.

"I like driving tracks, not just push-and-lay-down (ones)," he said. "It's up to the driver's skills... It shows who is the better slider."

Greszczyszyn, meanwhile, wasn't overly enthused with his first run, but trimmed 0.32 seconds on his second try.

"Run 1, I was a bit shaky and maybe a little too excited and loaded a bit too early," he said. "Run 2, I figured it was time to put some pressure on the other guys, but they matched it. I was hoping to move up a spot or two but Matt Antoine and Yun, his sliding's incredible. They earned it."

With Martins holding 0.85 seconds and Tomass enjoying a 0.52-second advantage on Greszczyszyn at the midpoint, a win seemed unlikely, but the Canuck still had plenty of reasons to keep going, especially when he's potentially on the back end of his career.

"We're racing the other guys, but we're racing ourselves, we're racing the track," he said. "If you start worrying about the other guys, you're going to get crushed. You can't control what they're doing.

"Train hard, focus, push your butt off, relax and feel your way down the track."

"It's a nice long track. My push is getting back to where it used to be leading up to the Olympics," the 36-year-old added. "The horse isn't in the pasture yet."

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