First victory under her hat

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:14 AM ET

Mellisa Hollingsworth-Richards' first World Cup victory wasn't just a win, it was a landslide.

The local skeleton athlete obliterated the field yesterday at Canada Olympic Park in the Visa World Cup, despite being nearly blinded when her tuque slipped down over her eyes on the first run.

But, after hundreds of runs at C.O.P., the home-track advantage paid off as Hollingsworth-Richards registered a two-run combined time of one minute 56.11 seconds, well ahead of Switzerland's Maya Pedersen's second-place time of 1:56.86. American Katie Uhlaender was third in 1:56.97.

After the race, Hollingsworth-Richards said the tuque really bothered her.

"It was blinding -- not the speed. The tuque on my race suit ended up going over my eyes on corner four, so it was like wearing a patch on one eye," said Hollingsworth-Richards, who married Cochrane saddle bronc rider Billy Richards in June.

"Before the second run, I cut the tuque."

Her first win comes nearly 10 years to the day after she got into the sport: Nov. 17, 1995. She's had several World Cup podiums, including a bronze at C.O.P. in 2003-04, and earned a silver medal at the 2000 worlds but Hollingsworth-Richards had never won.

"I'm kind of starstruck right now. I haven't quite digested it yet. I felt like it might have been my time," she said, adding her goals this season include more World Cup wins and a top three at the Olympics February in Turin, Italy.

Calgarian Lindsay Alcock, who finished sixth at the worlds here last year, was fifth yesterday in 1:56.99. She said everything she does this season is geared up for the Olympics.

"I had to really dig deep this summer and figure out what the gaps were last year ... It may not have put me on the podium today but everything I'm learning now is helping me for February," said Alcock, who was first overall on the World Cup circuit in 2003-04.

Canada can send two women from skeleton. Alcock and Hollingsworth-Richards, who needs one more top-six to qualify, are the leaders.

The World Cup continues today with men's skeleton (C.O.P., 10 a.m.), featuring Calgary's Jeff Pain, the reigning world champion, and Duff Gibson, followed by women's bobsled at 5 p.m.


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