Amy is an Olympian

When Amy Gough was officially confirmed for the Vancouver Olympic Games, her primary emotion wasn’t elation, but rather relief.

Abbotsford's Amy Gough has qualified for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

When Amy Gough was officially confirmed for the Vancouver Olympic Games, her primary emotion wasn’t elation, but rather relief.

At times, the Olympic qualifying campaign seemed interminable to Gough, a 32-year-old skeleton slider from Abbotsford.

But at last, Gough can call herself an Olympian. Her status was sealed last Friday evening, when she finished second at an Intercontinental Cup race in Calgary.

“It’s been a long haul, and I’m really relieved that it’s over,” Gough told The News in a phone interview. “It’s been really tiring, because it never ends. There always seems to be one more hoop that you have to jump through.

“But now, I can finally start getting excited about walking in the opening ceremonies.”

Gough’s silver medal finish last Friday in Calgary, combined with teammate Michelle Kelly’s bronze, ensured that Canada would qualify three sleds for the Olympics.

Canada had been guaranteed two Olympic berths, and those had already been locked up by World Cup points leader Mellisa Hollingsworth and Kelly. Gough was No. 3 on the Canadian depth chart, and her status wasn’t secure until Friday’s race was over.

The qualifying drive for Canada’s women’s Olympic skeleton team was marked by a surprising amount of controversy. At the World Cup team trials in Whistler in October, Kelly was disqualified because of irregularities with her sled runners. But an appeals panel overturned it after learning that Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton only had one equipment inspector on site in Whistler.

Then in December, Kelly was pulled from a World Cup race in Cesana, Italy by Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton CEO after her runners failed a pre-race inspection. But once again, an appeals panel ruled that the decision was a mistake.

The Fort St. John slider ended up overtaking Gough for the second spot on the Canadian team, and Gough had to beat teammate Carla Pavan in a two-race showdown in Whistler on Dec. 30-31 to lock up the No. 3 spot on the roster and keep her Olympic dream alive.

“I’ve tried to stay out of (the controversy), but it’s directly affected me a couple of times,” Gough noted. “It’s really stressful, it’s really unfortunate.”

With her Olympic status secure, Gough will spend the next two weeks in Calgary, working out and honing her skills before heading to Whistler for pre-Olympic practices.

“In competition, we don’t really have a chance to put forth great effort in workouts,” she said. “So I’m really looking forward to these next two weeks of working out in the gym with my strength and conditioning coach and getting a little bit more technical in my push…”

Gough’s showing on the World Cup circuit – she’s currently seventh overall in points, including a silver medal at a race in Park City, Utah – suggests she’s a legitimate threat to medal at the Olympics.