Hollingsworth covets golden opportunity

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

WHISTLER, B.C. — No fear. No excuses.

That’s the fresh approach Mellisa Hollingsworth intends to bring to the Whistler Sliding Centre when she hurtles headfirst down the course for her first two runs in the women’s skeleton competition Thursday.

The Alberta native isn’t just hoping for gold, she’s expecting it. And on the most dangerous sliding run in the world, she knows the only way to claim it is to go fast.

“I’m glad that everyone thinks I’m going to win gold, I’ve been working hard for 15 years,” Hollingsworth said after laying down the fastest two training runs of the week, breaking her own track record. “We (as Canadians) have to change our attitude.

“We want to be at the podium.”

If there were any inhibitions about going fast given the dramatic and controversial events here, Hollingsworth isn’t showing any.

In laying down the fastest training runs this week, Hollingsworth set what would be a speed record of 142.5 km/h if she matches it in competition, which ends with the final two rounds Friday night.

“I’ve gone faster,” Hollingsworth said. “My personal best in training is better.

“This was a fantastic year for me finishing first overall (on the World Cup circuit), but that just proves I can navigate a variety of tracks.”

Hollingsworth isn’t the only Canadian contender in the event certain to draw added attention given Canada has yet to win a medal in Whistler through the first five days. Teammate Amy Gough also has been swift in training and is in the medal mix.

Jeff Pain — who won a silver medal at the Torino Games in 2006, losing to fellow Canadian Duff Gibson — has struggled with starts here but remains in the mix. Pain, who last week accused the German team of using illegal sleds, doesn’t seem bothered by his form.

“I have never felt more prepared for a race,” Pain said.

Though Pain has since backtracked on his comments regarding the strong German team, the sniping will make for an intrigueing backdrop when the event gets underway on Blackcomb Mountain.

Teammate Jon Montgomery has been the fastest in training, clocking speeds of 1:43.9 kilometres per hour and is among those to beat in the men’s event.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

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