Rahvela wins skeleton race, Nikitina nears World Cup title
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Canada's Mirela Rahneva won a World Cup women's skeleton race on home ice Friday, posting the fastest time in both heats to prevail by about a half-second over Germany's Tina Hermann.
Canada also grabbed the bronze, with Elisabeth Maier holding off World Cup leader Elena Nikitina of Russia.
Kendall Wesenberg was the top U.S. woman, placing eighth.
Germany's Jacqueline Loelling, the Olympic silver medalist, was second in the World Cup standings entering the weekend and had the best chance of catching Nikitina in the season points chase. But Loelling is not scheduled to race this weekend, Hermann has moved into second place overall and Nikitina now needs only a 13th-place finish in the women's season finale on Saturday to clinch the crown.
In the men's race later Friday, Russia's Alexander Tretiakov held off South Korea's Yun Sungbin for the victory, with Latvia's Martins Dukurs placing third. Austin Florian led the Americans with an 11th-place finish.
Tretiakov now leads Yun by 49 points in the seasonlong standings with one race left, meaning no worse than a fourth-place finish in the men's finale on Sunday will lock up the World Cup overall title for him.
It is a jam-packed final weekend of the World Cup season for skeleton athletes. Because a race was canceled earlier this season in Germany after heavy snow, there are double races for both skeleton disciplines in Calgary this weekend. Women will race their World Cup season-finale on Saturday, and men will finish their circuit for the season on Sunday.
It's a farewell weekend to the season and possibly a farewell to sliding in Calgary. The track that played host to the races at the 1988 Winter Olympics faces a most uncertain future because of funding concerns.
"We've got to save the track," Rahneva said.