Lumsden, Rush slide to first gold for Canada 1


logo_bcs_headerLA PLAGNE, Fra.—Canada’s bobsleigh and skeleton athletes put an exclamation mark on a remarkable first half of the season on Saturday, winning gold and silver in men’s two-man bobsleigh and women’s skeleton racing in La Plagne, France.

Lyndon Rush and Jesse Lumsden teamed up in the Canada 1 two-man sled to win their first gold medal of season, and third straight podium. Calgary’s Sarah Reid scored a season medal hat trick of her own after bombing down the down the 1,507-metre La Plagne track in the silver-medal position.

Rush, of Humboldt, Sask., and former CFL star, Lumsden of Burlington, Ont., had a brilliant day posting the fastest times in both runs down the gnarly track nestled in the French Alps for a combined time of 2:01.18.

“We’ve been close all year, but it is so fun when you finally close the deal,” said Rush, who grabbed his first silver this year with Lascelles Brown on the brakes. “It is so hard to start on this track because it is really flat so it exposes the better athletes. Jesse is an unbelievable athlete and he did an incredible job carrying the load today.”

It was the fifth two-man and ninth overall World Cup medal for Rush, who won the four-man Olympic bronze medal in 2010. Rush and Lumsden have combined to win five World Cup medals together, including two victories, inaddition to sliding to the silver medal at last year’s World Championships.

Saturday’s gold, which is Rush’s third career two-man victory, brings the Canadian bobsleigh squads podium total to nine this year.

“So much of the credit has to go to Eurotech and the mechanics they have working on our sleds,” said Rush. “They do all of the work which allows us athletes to focus on pushing and driving. Not to discredit what myself and Kaillie are doing, but we are one of the best supported teams in the world through Eurotech.”

Switzerland’s Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann won the silver at 2:01.45, while Steven Holcomb and Steven Langton, of the United States, grabbed the bronze with a time of 2:01.48.

Calgary’s Chris Spring and Edmonton’s Adam Rosenke finished 15th (2:02.27), while Justin Kripps, of Summerland, B.C., and Sam Giguere, of Sherbrooke, Que., placed 16th at 2:02.38.

Earlier in the day, Calgary’s Sarah Reid also put a silver lining on a career-best first half of the season that saw her pick up one gold and two silver medals.

The 25-year-old Reid rocketed down the challenging 1,507-metre La Plagne track in a time of 2:08.71 to finish in a deadlock for second spot with Germany’s Marion Thees.

“I had two really good pushes and two good runs today,” said Reid, who grabbed her third and final Olympic qualifier this year. She will need one more top-six finish next season to punch her ticket to Sochi.

“This is a hard track to relax because it is a really busy track with high pressure corners, but I was able to relax today.”

Katie Uhlaender, of the United States, finished on top of the podium with a time of 2:08.22.

The pint-sized Reid has shown she is not intimidated by some of the most daunting tracks in the world. Sliding for 10 years, Reid kicked off her dream pre-Olympic season against the big girls on the World Cup by winning her first-ever race in Lake Placid, N.Y. Two weeks later, Reid plummeted down the Olympic track in Whistler to the silver and her second career World Cup medal.

“I do enjoy the more technical tracks for sure. I feel if I can relax I can do well,” said Reid, who is on a new on a new sled this year designed by British skeleton ace Kristan Bromley. “I think my new equipment has definitely played a difference this year. At the start of the season, I hoped for this, but I don’t think I expected it. After Lake Placid I was a lot more comfortable. It has been a lot of fun.”

Two other Canadians suited up on Saturday in La Plagne. Two-time World Cup champion, Mellisa Hollingsworth of Eckville, Alta., placed seventh at 2:09.53, while rookie Cassie Hawrysh, of Brandon, Man., dropped out of the top-10, finishing 13th (2:10.06).

Canada’s skeleton athletes have four medals this year, bringing Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton’s total to 13 in just five races.

The first half of the World Cup season wraps up on Sunday in La Plagne with men’s four-man bobsleigh racing.