The Olympic dreams of Brandon native Cassie Hawrysh came crashing down on Friday.
All three Canadian women’s sliders were withdrawn from the final World Cup skeleton event in Igls, Austria yesterday, with Canada’s Mellisa Hollingsworth and Sarah Reid both suffering from concussion-like symptoms throughout the week. Their withdrawal eliminated any hope of Canada qualifying a third sled for the Sochi Olympics next month.
In order to get a third sled, Canada needed a strong performance from World Cup rookie Robynne Thompson in the race. The Canadian coaches then would have had to choose between Thompson and Hawrysh for who would compete in Russia.
Hawrysh was disappointed when she learned the news, but understood the athletes and coaches’ decision to withdraw.
"Our health has to be the first priority; in that sense, obviously it’s important," Hawrysh said yesterday via telephone from Calgary. "It’s difficult for me because without anyone racing it means my chance is gone. … It’s a tough way to not get to go to the Games, that’s for sure."
Canada will send just two racers to the Olympics in Reid and Hollingsworth.
Hawrysh, a 29-year-old Neelin high school graduate, finished her racing season in fine fashion on the second-tier Intercontinental Cup circuit last weekend when she won a pair of gold medals in Park City, Utah. She also won a silver medal the weekend before that in Whistler, B.C.
Hawrysh finished 19th in the FIBT rankings with 806 points, while Thompson is 21st with 720 after not racing yesterday.
Meanwhile, Russell’s Jon Montgomery, the defending Olympic gold medallist from the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, will compete in his final World Cup men’s skeleton race before the Sochi Games today in Igls.
The 34-year-old, who sits 24th in the world rankings, will likely need a top-six finish overall to qualify as Canada’s third slider for the Olympics.
Canada’s top two men’s sliders, Eric Neilson and John Fairbairn, are both ranked in the top 10 in the world and have already earned trips to the Olympics.
» Brandon Sun
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 18, 2014