From Altenberg, GER
(Jan. 4, 2019) – Elena Nikitina won her second race of the IBSF World Cup season, setting a start record in the process.
The Russian pushed off with a near start record 5.35, and bettered that with a 5.31 to break her start record from 2015. On both runs that start was enough to keep her ahead of of eventual silver medalist Jacquline Lölling, with Lölling starting well back of the Russian but catching up to Nikitina with her drive down. Nikitina’s drives were clean enough to keep her ahead of the German to win gold, her second of the young season.
Lölling finished second, effectively running out of track in both heats, while Yulia Kanakina finished third for her first medal of the season.
Germans Tina Hermann and Sophia Griebel finished fourth and fifth, while Austrian Janine Flock rounded out the top six. Marina Gilardoni finished seventh in her first race back from injuries sustained in a crash in Sigulda to start the season.
Snow likely played with the overall results in both heats.
In the first run the snow picked up just before track record holder Lölling took to the ice. She was able to keep pace with Nikitina, who had gone off just before her. In the snow she kept up with the Russian, but will be left to wonder what would have happened had she had clean ice. Meanwhile, the women behind her (including Hermann, Griebel, and Flock) all came down in heavy snow, with bibs seven to 18 all dealing with some sort of weather-related issues.
The snow picked up again just as Kendall Wesenberg was pushing off in the second heat. Her run was clean and quick, and that combined with the heavier snowfall was enough to propel her up the order from 13th to ninth, while Savannah Graybill, Kimberley Bos, and Elisabeth Maier all struggled to find speed after her.
Maier led the way for the Canadians with an 11th place finish, ahead of teammates Mimi Rahneva (14th) and Jane Channell (19th). All three women had to deal with snowy conditions in at least one of their heats.
Olympic bronze medalist Laura Deas finished eighth to lead the charge for Great Britain. Kimberley Murray and Madelaine Smith finished 17th and 18th in their first World Cup starts in Altenberg.
Savannah Graybill finished 13th for the United States, while Aussie Jackie Narracott moved up the leader board from 17th after her first run to finish 15th in her 30th World Cup start.
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