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WHISTLER, B.C.—Blake Enzie led a trio of Canadians into the top-10 with a career-best sixth-place finish at the season-opener of the BMW IBSF Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup in Whistler, B.C. on Thursday.

Competing in just his fourth World Cup race ever, the 21-year-old Calgarian clocked a two-run time of 1:46.86 down the 16-corner monster of a track.

“I’m pumped! To race in a home World Cup is very exciting,” said Enzie, who represented Canada at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. “This is the smoothest and fastest ice in the world. To have my best World Cup finish here is amazing.”

Enzie, whose previous best finish on the World Cup was 19th, posted the fifth fastest time in his first rip down the Whistler sliding Centre track. He dropped one spot in his final run.

“I have been here the last six weeks, training and preparing, so it is nice to have comfort coming into this race,” he added. “I was playing with the big dogs today, and hopefully we are able to keep it going for the rest of the season.”

Marcus Wyatt, of Great Britain, slid to his first World Cup victory in the men’s race with a combined time of 1:45.44.

Wyatt topped Korea’s Seunggi Jung by .01 seconds. Jung settled for the silver medal with a time of 1:45.45. After posting the top time in the opening run, Matt Weston of Great Britain, hung on for third place at 1:46.10.

Saskatoon’s 35-year-old Evan Neufeldt was 13th with a time of 1:47.74.

Mirela Rahneva was the top Canuck in the women’s World Cup skeleton race, placing seventh on Thursday afternoon.

“It would have been nice to start the season on home ice with a medal. Sometimes you train really well, and you get in your head about it on race day,” said Rahneva.

A fifth-place finisher at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, the 34-year-old Rahneva bounced back from a clocking the ninth-fastest opening run time with the fifth-best down time in the final heat for a combined time of 1:47.99.

“It is the season opener and you definitely want to put your best foot forward in race one,” added Rahneva, who has been training in Whistler with her Canadian teammates throughout the fall and early winter. “Anytime you underperform from what you are capable of it is disappointing, but I told myself I can’t be upset sliding here. It feels good to shake off the race nerves and rust.”  

Canada’s Jane Channell was in the podium hunt after throwing down a new track start record of 4.76 in the first heat.

Channell, who grew up down the road in North Vancouver and learned to slide on the 2010 Olympic Track, was sitting in third place at the midway point of the race.

A rough second run dropped the 34-year-old five spots down the standings, and into a tie for eighth with a time of 1:48.00.

“I take full accountability for that disaster of a second run,” said Channell, who snagged one of her four career World medals at the Whistler Sliding Centre in 2017. “It feels really good to be back here on my home track. It has been way too long, so it is really exciting (to be sliding here).”

Germany’s Hannah Neise captured the first women’s skeleton crown of the World Cup season, winning with a time of 1:47.40. The youngest athlete in the field – Hallie Clarke of the United States – celebrated her first career World Cup medal after finishing deadlocked at 1:47.58 with Brogan Crowley, of Great Britain.

The women’s monobob and two-man bobsleigh races will hit the starting block on Saturday at the Whistler Sliding Centre, beginning at 10 a.m.



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