Canada’s Bobsleigh and Skeleton Athletes Ready for World Cup Opener
Newly named national team athletes continue mission for medals on track to Beijing, Ontario teen slides into skeleton spotlight
CALGARY—A veteran line up of Canadian bobsleigh and skeleton athletes will continue their mission for medals when the 2021-22 World cup season kicks off in Igls, Austria, November 19-21.
Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton named eight athletes to the Senior Skeleton Program and 16 athletes to the Senior Canadian Bobsleigh Team on the eve of the World Cup season opener. The governing body for the two sliding sports in Canada also announced seven skeleton athletes and 16 bobsledders to the National Development Programs.
“Our team goals remain completely clear – to win medals at all levels. This is a hungry group of athletes who have not wavered from this goal throughout the Olympic quadrennial and know they can win when it matters most,” said Chris Le Bihan, high-performance director, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton.
“We continue to prepare a deep pool of athletes for the start line who are led by a group of veterans who have delivered under the most intense pressure at the Olympics, World Championships and World Cup races. These athletes will continue to encourage each other to excel and be pushed by our development athletes over the next three months with the ultimate goal of contributing to the Canadian medal count in Beijing.”
Canada will send two of the most explosive starters on the planet – Jane Chanell (North Vancouver) and Mirela Rahneva (Ottawa) to the World Cup start line in women’s skeleton. The two Olympians on the skeleton squad have both slid onto the World Cup podium on multiple tracks around the world. Mark Lynch (St. John’s, Nfld.) will be the lone Canadian male to start the World Cup season.
Channell, Rahneva and Lynch will be joined in the senior skeleton program by a new crop of young Canadian skeleton athletes who stole the show during selection races.
Hallie Clark (Brighton, Ont.) will step up into the senior ranks after the 17-year-old shocked the nation by winning the Canadian women’s selection races earlier this month in Whistler, B.C. Clarke will be joined by Madison Charney (Calgary) in the women’s field, while two more Calgarians – 20-year-old Blake Enzie and Kyle Murray – along with Saskatoon’s Evan Neufeldt will compete in the men’s races.
Five sleds – two men and three women – will be decked out in the Canadian colours on the World Cup bobsleigh circuit while vying for coveted spots in Beijing.
Olympic champion, Justin Kripps (Summerland, B.C.), and fellow three-time Olympian Chris Spring (Vancouver) will pilot the men’s sleds. Two-time World Championship medallist, Christine de Bruin (Stony Plain, Alta.) will lead a triple Canadian threat to the podium in women’s monobob and two-women bobsleigh action. Cynthia Appiah (Toronto) and Melissa Lotholz (Barrhead, Alta.) will also be looking to make their mark on the track to Beijing.
The Canadian sleds will be rocking thanks to 11 Canucks – six men and five women – who are fired up to provide the horsepower behind Canada’s top pilots when called upon. Two-time Olympian Ben Coakwell (Saskatoon), Cam Stones (Whitby, Ont.), and Ryan Sommer (Kelowna, B.C.) will once again be the force behind Team Kripps’ sleds. Olympian Cody Sorensen (Ottawa) returns to the program after an eight-year hiatus and will help push Team Spring along with Mike Evelyn (Ottawa) and former CFLer, Sam Giguere (Sherbrooke, Que.).
Coming off record pushes in national team testing this Fall, Kristen Bujnowski (Mount Brydges, Ont.) will lead a group of five dynamic women who will get the nod to push Canada’s trio of sleds in World Cup races. Dawn Richardson Wilson (Edmonton), Sara Villani (Norval, Ont.), Erica Voss (Toronto), and Niamh Haughey (Scarborough, Ont.) will also share time on the brakes.
“The depth in all of our teams has grown significantly over the last four years, and our program is now replete with a strong mix of veteran experience and youthful enthusiasm and drive. All of our athletes have worked together to develop a competitive and respectful culture of excellence where all athletes share a common goal to deliver medal-winning performances,” added Le Bihan. “The next four months promise to be an exciting ride.”
A talented group of youngsters, who are also providing additional energy to the program on the Development Skeleton and Bobsleigh Teams, are also poised to capture the world’s attention on the North America’s Cup circuit.
The following athletes were named to the National Development Programs:
National Skeleton Development Team
Grace Dafoe (Calgary)
Natalie Coughlin (Windsor, Ont.)
David Park (Calgary)
Ryan Kuehn (Calgary)
Kyle Donsberger (Regina)
Jimmie Airey (Edmonton)
Troy Wilson (Woodstock, N.B.)
National Bobsleigh Development Team
Pat Norton – Pilot (Ottawa) Bianca Ribi – Pilot (Calgary)
Brendon Thera Plamondon – Pilot (Calgary) Leah Walkedan (Edmonton)
Orion Edwards – Pilot (Newmarket, Ont.) Janine McCue (Calgary)
Taylor Austin – Pilot (Calgary) Eden Wilson (Calgary)
Shaquille Murray-Lawrence (Scarborough, Ont.)
Chris Patrician (Toronto)
Dan Sunderland (Calgary)
Mark Mlakar (Mississauga, Ont.)
Anthony Couturier-Lagacé (Riviere-du-loup, Que.)
Kayden Johnson (Kerrobert, Sask.)
The opening event on the 2021-22 BMW IBSF World Cup circuit is set for this week in Igls, Austria. The skeleton races are set for November 19. Women’s monobob and two-man bobsleigh races will take centre stage on November 20 followed by two-women and four-man bobsleigh on November 21.
Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton is a non-profit organization and the national governing body for the sports of bobsleigh and skeleton in Canada. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Karbon, Joe Rocket Canada, Smartvita, Kuri Tec Corporation, Bells of Steel and Defender Sales Agency – along with the Government of Canada, Own the Podium and the Canadian Olympic Committee, Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton develops Olympic and world champions. Please visit us at www.bobsleighcanadaskeleton.ca.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton