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First World Cup skeleton win of the season for Mirela Rahneva

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Mirela Rahneva slid to women’s skeleton gold at the IBSF World Cup in Sigulda, Latvia on Friday.

The 35-year-old Canadian recorded a two-run total time of 1:43.10, giving her the victory by nearly a third of a second (0.28) over Belgium’s Kim Meylemans. Germany’s Hannah Neise rounded out the podium, just 0.03 back of Meylemans, who is second in the overall World Cup standings.

“I needed a little win,” said Rahneva. “It is a lot of pressure sitting in the top-three at the top of the track after the first run. It is never comfortable. You are always thinking don’t mess it up, just stay here. It is definitely a lot of work to not think about the result but think about the process.”

Mirela Rahneva smiles with her helmet perched atop her head
Mirela Rahneva after her win in the women’s skeleton race at the IBSF World Cup in Sigulda, Latvia on February 1, 2024 (International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation)

Another Canadian, 19-year-old Hallie Clarke, finished eighth in 1:43.85, following up her season-best seventh-place performance last week in Lillehammer.

This is Rahneva’s first victory of the season, but the fifth time in her career she has stood atop a World Cup podium. She was last victorious in December 2022 in Park City, Utah. The two-time Olympian opened this season with a third-place finish in Yanqing, China in November, but the closest she had come to the podium since then was a fifth-place finish in Innsbruck in mid December. She is currently eighth in the overall World Cup standings.

“I’m really proud of pursuing something that I knew I was capable of doing,” said Rahneva. “Sometimes you can get in your head a bit, but it is important to drown those thoughts and get grounded. I am very happy I was able to do that today.”

Earlier on Friday, Cynthia Appiah and Leah Walkeden placed seventh in the two-woman bobsleigh. Appiah will race again on Saturday in the women’s monobob before another two-woman race on Sunday.

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