The Whistler Sliding Centre finally became home sweet home for North Vancouver Skeleton racer Jane Channell, who last weekend broke in after years of knocking on the door.
Channell won silver in Friday’s World Cup race, her first podium placing in two years and third overall in her racing career. Whistler is where she first took up the sport after catching Olympic fever in 2010. The former track star made Canada’s World Cup skeleton team in 2014 and tasted success early in her career but her trips back to the Whistler track had always ended in disappointment until her emotional silver showing Friday.
“Whistler has always been a love-hate thing for me, so to come out here and be able to love the track, and accept it for what it is, feels amazing,” Channell stated in a release. She wiped away tears at the finish line after putting up a time of 1:48.61 in her two runs. “To do this on my home track, where I learned to slide, in front of my friends and family absolutely means the world to me.”
The other two podium spots both went to Germans, with Jacqueline Loelling claiming gold in a time of 1:48.38 and Tina Hermann placing third in 1:48.65.
Channell excelled in her first full season of skeleton, finishing third overall on the World Cup circuit in 2015-16. Her results fell off last year, however, as her top-10 placings were few and far between, putting her 11th overall on the season.
This year, with the Olympic Games looming, Channell appears to have found her groove again. Two weeks ago she posted the fastest time in the final heat of the Lake Placid World cup race, finishing sixth overall.
“I really needed that run (in Lake Placid),” she said. “It was a game changer. Last year was such a difficult year for me. I know I had the support of so many people, but I needed to find a way to believe in myself. That is an entirely different thing, and to actually then go out and do it is another thing.”
Channell kept up her speed in Whistler, finally mastering the 16-corner, 1,450-metre track on Blackcomb Mountain for her second career World Cup silver to go along with one bronze.
“I knew I could do it today, but I didn’t have many expectations,” she said. “I took it corner-by-corner. That is the only way to (have success) here because with the conditions today you didn’t know what was going to happen. That was the key. There are lots of things to clean up on the track, but I was able to pull it out today. It means the world to me to do this here in Whistler.”