Gough climbs World Cup podium

Amy Gough of Abbotsford won her first World Cup medal - a silver - on Thursday in Park City

Abbotsford’s Amy Gough led the charge as the Canadian women’s skeleton team stormed the podium at the season-opening World Cup race in Park City, Utah on Thursday.

Gough, 32, captured her first-ever World Cup podium finish after posting the second-fastest time on the 2002 Olympic Track at 51.36 seconds. Mellisa Hollingsworth, the 2006 Olympic bronze medalist, was third after clocking in at 51.37. The second run was cancelled due to heavy snow.

“I’m pretty shocked. This is just crazy,” Gough said in a national team news release. “My goal was to finish top-eight today to get an Olympic qualifier, but to get second and finish as top Canadian definitely is beyond my expectations.”

Gough, who is making her first full-season start on the World Cup circuit, has had just a handful of World Cup starts in her five-year career. Her best finish was a fourth-place result in Winterberg, Germany in February of 2007 where she sat in second spot after the opening run.

“I have been in this position where I was second after the first run of a World Cup and dropped to fourth place, so I was preparing myself to put down another solid run,” said Gough. “I didn’t expect them to cancel the second run, and was just shocked when I realized I was second. This is such a great start.”

Gough held off a hard-charging Mellisa Hollingsworth, who is the leader of the Canadian women’s team. The 29-year-old veteran overcame a challenging start to hold onto third place.

“I am very happy with getting onto the podium, and extremely proud of Amy’s performance today,” said Hollingsworth, whose third-place finish was her 17th trip to the World Cup podium. “I think it is really important to get off to a strong start to the season and get on the podium. We’ll be able to carry this energy with us to the next race and that will help us.”

Hollingsworth had some technical challenges at the start, and while driving near the bottom of the track which cost her some critical time on the track where she won her third World Cup victory last season.

Sandwiched between the Canadian women on the golden spot of the podium was Germany’s Anja Huber, who posted a time of 51.22

Canada’s Michelle Kelly, of Fort St. John, B.C., overcame a whirlwind week to post an impressive fifth-place finish at 51.50. The 35-year-old Kelly, who was reinstated to the national team on Tuesday evening following an appeal of a disqualification during the team’s selection trials, arrived at the track in time for two last-minute training runs Wednesday before putting down a solid performance in the World Cup opener.

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