ST. MORITZ, Switzerland —Summerside's Heather Moyse was part of a history-making day for Canadian women’s bobsleigh.
For the first time ever, three Canadian women’s sleds have qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, in February.
Moyse, who is the brakewoman and will be competing in her fourth Winter Olympics, and pilot Alysia Rissling broke through with their top result of the season – a fourth-place finish in women’s World Cup bobsleigh action in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Saturday.
Rissling, a 29-year-old Next Generation pilot, and Moyse, chalked up their best result in just four races together after finishing with a two-run time of 2:16.07 on the world’s only non-refrigerated track.
“It feels great to finally have a good finish,” said Rissling. “I was so happy with my drives today (Saturday), and we executed a new program at the start. It’s great knowing that when I string together consistent pushes, and drives, the results will be there.”
Canada’s top sled of Kaillie Humphries (Calgary) and Phylicia George (Markham, Ont.) struggled to a ninth-place finish with a time of 2:16.93 as they were testing new equipment.
Christine de Bruin (Stony Plain, Alta.) and Melissa Lotholz (Barrhead, Alta.) secured the Canadian women three sleds at the Olympic Winter Games for the first time ever with a 14th place finish (2:17.21).
It was the best result for Edmonton’s Rissling since winning a bronze medal at the final World Cup race of her rookie season last year in PyeongChang. This fall, the former varsity basketball player at the University of Alberta teamed up with Moyse, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, to bring additional experience in the sled for her first run to the Olympic Winter Games. It has taken time for the second-year pilot and veteran brakeman to click in their drive to the podium.
“The start hasn’t been where we want it to be, so we switched techniques for this race. We only got to practise the technique once in training, so it still needs some work,” said Rissling. “We are both confident we can continue to build a much faster push in the next five weeks.
“We are really starting to jell. Heather’s challenging me in such a positive way in the way I prepare, and execute a race. There was lots of distractions this week, but Heather challenged me to focus solely on the task at hand.
“That was the difference today. We are embracing the progression, and continue to build each race.”
The Canadian duo was poised to pounce onto the podium for the first time together, sitting in third spot after their first trip down the 1,700-metres of stunning natural ice at the birthplace of the sport. Posting the eighth-fastest start times in each heat, the Canucks dropped one spot into fourth when all was said and done.
“Being so close to the podium at this point in the season is a good reflection of the progression we have been making as a team,” said Moyse, who added the duo has been making positive headway each week. “We believe the changes we made with our push this week are going to feed into our strengths at the start. Alysia put down two really good runs, and with consistency being an important aspect of medalling at the four-heat event at the Games, it’s awesome to have today under our belts moving forward.”
Elana Myers Taylor and Lolo Jones of the United States were the team to beat on Saturday, winning with a time of 2:15.27. Germany’s Mariama Jamanka and Annika Drazek finished .21 seconds back in second at 2:15.48, while their teammates, Stephanie Schneider and Lisa Buckwitz, topped the Canadians for the bronze medal with a time of 2:15.76.