Mixed bag to start season for Channell 

Skeleton racer takes fourth, 11th in first two races in which she tested new equipment

click to enlarge PHOTO BY VIESTURS LACIS - Start-up Skeleton racer Jane Channell has had a fourth-place and 11th-place finish in the first two BMW IBSF World Cup races of the season.
  • Photo by Viesturs Lacis
  • Start-up Skeleton racer Jane Channell has had a fourth-place and 11th-place finish in the first two BMW IBSF World Cup races of the season.

Some might follow the mantra that there's never a wrong time to try new things, but for Olympic athletes, the period immediately following the Games is the ideal opportunity.

That's the approach Sea to Sky skeleton racer Jane Channell is taking early in the 2018-19 BMW IBSF World Cup campaign that has seen mixed results. Channell kicked off the season in Sigulda, Latvia, where she earned a fourth-place finish in her first race at the track, while she slipped to 11th at Winterberg, Germany this past weekend. At the latter race, though, Channell explained she was testing new equipment that didn't quite work out.

"I would have wanted it to go better," she said of the Dec. 14 contest. "I took a gamble and unfortunately it didn't pay off this time around. It is important for me to know how the things I was testing played out in the certain conditions that were present."

Channell declined to explain further what type of equipment she was using, saying only that "it may or may not play a factor in upcoming races." However, she expects more tinkering this year than in other seasons.

"This year is definitely the year to be testing equipment. The first year of a (quadrennial), you want to test out the big differences and see what works and what doesn't work," she said. "Each year getting closer and closer to the Olympics, it's refining the minor details. If there is a year to test equipment, it would be this year."

Also in Winterberg, Mirela Rahneva was the top Canadian, placing fifth, while Elisabeth Maier was just back of Channell in 12th. Germany's Jacqueline Loelling earned the win over fellow German Tina Hermann and Austrian Janine Flock. On the men's side, Kevin Boyer was the top Canuck in 14th, while Russian Alexander Tretiakov earned the win over German Axel Jungk and South Korea's Sungbin Yun.

No Canadians were involved in the bobsleigh events. In the women's race, Germany took the top two spots with Stephanie Schneider and Ann-Christin Strack edging Mariama Jamanka and Annika Drazek and Americans Elana Meyers Taylor and Lake Kwaza.

There were two four-man races, with Germany earning every podium spot. On Dec. 16, Nico Walther piloted his sled to victory over those directed by Francesco Friedrich and Johannes Lochner, while on Dec. 17, Friedrich slid to victory over Lochner and Walther, in order. Meyers Taylor, meanwhile, piloted an all-women's sled both days.

Opening the year just off the podium in Latvia was gratifying for Channell, especially as she opted to train in Altenberg, Germany for much of that week instead of at a track that is a rarity on the tour. It was the first World Cup race in Sigulda since 2005, and Channell had only two prior training sessions there.

"It felt really good," she said. "To get a fourth place after only six training runs on an unfamiliar track was really good.

"It's a very, very technical track and it's tricky to get down. There are some corners and transitions that are really tight, so tight that four-man (bobsleighs) can't go down the track," she said. "It's really difficult to fix a mistake when the corners are coming at you that fast. Training was a time for me to get those mistakes out and I was lucky to have my two fastest runs on race day."

Channell added that she opted to train in Altenberg as it is a regular World Cup track (and hosting the first race of 2019 on Jan. 4), and will also serve as the 2020 World Championships host.

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