Competing with a heavy heart, Abbotsford native Amy Gough slid to her first ever World Cup skeleton gold medal on Saturday in Winterberg, Germany.
Two days prior to the race, Gough’s father Robert passed away at the age of 70 in Abbotsford. After consulting with family, the 34-year-old Olympian elected to stay in Winterberg for the race. She pulled herself together and mustered the performance of her life, clocking a winning time of 1:00.16.
Then Gough began the long journey home – she was set to land at Abbotsford International Airport on Monday afternoon in advance of her father’s funeral, tentatively set for Wednesday.
“It has been a rough week,” Gough acknowledged in a press release following her landmark win, “so this feels really good.”
Gough already had a silver and three bronze medals on her World Cup resumé, but Saturday’s race marked the first time she’d climbed to the top step of the podium.
The Abbotsford Senior grad represented Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, finishing seventh.
Gough was joined on the Winterberg podium by two German athletes. Katharina Heinz finished in second spot at 1:00.24, while Marion Thees slid to the bronze medal with a time of 1:00.26.
“It has taken me a long time to get here, but my training went really well this summer and I’m the strongest that I have ever been,” Gough said. “Just because I’m older, I think this shows you can’t kick me out yet.
“I feel really privileged to do what I really enjoy doing and I think that helped me today. This victory tells me I know I have what it takes to be a winner and I’m proud of that.”
The race featured a new format, with two runs on Friday and the top 10 athletes coming back Saturday to do one run for the medals between the men’s and women’s bobsleigh races on Saturday in an effort to gain more exposure for the sport. But heavy snow forced the cancellation of one run Friday.
Amy Gough’s victory coincidentally comes one day after the historic golden luge run of Canada’s Alex Gough back home in Calgary. The Golden Gough sliding sport athletes are not related.
“I had to tell the announcer today that we weren’t sisters,” laughed Amy Gough. “That is awesome that Alex won. The Gough name is definitely out there this weekend.”
Calgary’s Sarah Reid finished eighth at 1:00.87, while Mellisa Hollingsworth, of Eckville, Alta., was 13th and did not qualify for the second run.