Team Canada Elisabeth Vathje Mirela RahnevaPhoto: AP/Kerstin Joensson
Photo: AP/Kerstin Joensson

Double podium for Vathje, Rahneva at skeleton World Cup

Elisabeth Vathje and Mirela Rahneva delivered a double podium for Canada at the IBSF World Cup in Innsbruck.

After an exciting second run on Friday, Vathje came away with the silver while Rahneva took the bronze in women’s skeleton.

“The only thing better than sharing the podium with Mimi, would be to share it with both Mimi and Jane (Channell),” said Vathje. “I think it shows the strength in our program, and we are here to fight. All three Canadians moved up from their spots after the first run and that shows the tenacity in our team.”

Vathje had been holding onto third place after the first run while Rahneva sat in seventh place, two-tenths of a second out of a podium position.

But Rahneva showed she was ready to make a move up the standings with an incredible start time of 5.26 seconds in her second run. She finished that heat with a time of 54.46 seconds, which was only beaten on the day by the eventual winner, Russia’s Elena Nikitina, whose two-run total was 1:48.80 (54.41+54.39).

« Before the race, I definitely had my sights set on a podium finish. After coming seventh in the first heat, I really tried to concentrate and visualize the track. I knew from last year that I can race well here,” said Rahneva, who won silver on this track last season.

Meanwhile Vathje had slight slip at the start of her second run, but it didn’t affect her too badly as she finished with a total time of 1:49.38, 0.06 of a second faster than her teammate’s 1:49.44 and 0.58 behind Nikitina.

This is the third podium finish of the season for Vathje, who also won silver at the season-opener in Lake Placid and last week in Winterberg. She now sits second in the overall World Cup standings, one spot ahead of Rahneva, who stepped onto the podium for the first time this season.

In five World Cup races so far, the Canadian women have only missed the podium once, at the second stop in Park City. Canada’s third World Cup competitor, Jane Channell, added a silver of her own on the home track in Whistler late last month.

Team Canada Elisabeth Vathje

Team Canada’s second placed Elisabeth Vathje celebrates in the finish area after the women’s Skeleton World Cup race in Innsbruck, Austria, Friday, Dec. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

This is not the first time Vathje and Rahneva have shared a podium. Last season they finished first and third, respectively, at the World Cup stop in Winterberg.

Bobsleigh takes over the Innsbruck track for the rest of the weekend. Saturday will feature the two-man races for women and men, followed on Sunday by the four-man event. The World Cup circuit then takes a bit of a holiday hiatus before resuming January 5 in Altenberg, Germany.