Our House - Season in Review Part 1

Our House - Part 1

Team Canada

Hello True North Mortgage visitor!

My name is Mirela Rahneva and I am a Canadian Skeleton Team member.

May 2017

Just two seasons ago, I was a development athlete ranked 43rd in the world with a seemingly distant dream of representing Canada at the Olympic Games.

This past season, with the incredible help from community partners such as True North Mortgage, I earned a spot on the National Team and medaled at 4 of 8 World Cup Races!

Through hard work and support from my community, I am now ranked 3rd in the world.

My relationship with True North Mortgage began when my father and I were looking to purchase a home in Calgary in 2015.

True North Mortgage has been an instrumental partner in not only our home purchase, but also my development as a Canadian athlete coming onto the world stage.

As a guest blogger for TNM today, it's my pleasure to take you through my 2016-2017 season's highlights — and perhaps give you some insight into what it's like to be a Canadian Athlete on tour.

Our season began on home ice in Whistler, BC.

Whistler is the fastest sheet of ice in the world, with skeletons reaching speeds of 143 km/h and 4-man bobsleigh hitting upwards of 154 km/h.

The track is challenging, and most of all, unforgiving, which causes much frustration when you get it wrong. However, the track is set in the most stunning of mountains with great views.

Whistler, BC
View from the Bobsleigh/Skeleton Start House of Curve 1 and the Whistler Village

The ice is always the smoothest and fastest to slide on.

It’s the most difficult track in the world.

And, it's one of the most rewarding tracks to slide when done right. The track crew is super friendly and caring. It is simply — home.

Having my first World Cup race representing Canada on a home track was something special. I felt like our team as Canadians had a job to do and that was to protect our house.

In training, other nations put down some fast times while others struggled, crashed and became frustrated, with emotions running high.

Race day came, and I tried to make it feel like just another training day, but a slightly more important one with slightly more people watching. I was in 5th position after the first heat and standing at the top of the track before my second and final run I thought to myself “just run fast and trust yourself!"

I came away with a 5th-place finish and a new start record.

A post shared by Mirela Rahneva (@mrahneva) on Dec 9, 2016 at 8:50am PST

I watched the final four sliders come down, including teammate Elisabeth Vathje who was sitting in 1st position. Her final run was spectacular and she would walk away with the Gold for Canada. Her family greeted her and her dad handed her the Canadian flag. I watched as she shared her emotions with her family and thought it was beautiful.

I was just as excited for her as if I had won it myself. I picked her up and gave her a congratulatory hug. In my eyes, we had done our job.

Woman's skeleton
Mirela Rahneva starting her second run in Whistler, BC / Photo: David McColm

Whistler World Cup Results for Canada:

Woman's Skeleton

Elisabeth Vathje – Gold

Mirela Rahneva – 5th + Start Record

Jane Channell – 16th

Men's Skeleton

Barrett Martineau – 10th

Dave Greszczyszyn – 11th

Kevin Boyer - 17th

Lake Placid
Teammates Jane Channell and Dave Griszczyszyn walking in track through Corner 17 in Lake Placid

Lake Placid, NY was our second stop on the world cup tour for 2016/2017.

The small town known for its hockey history, including the "miracle on ice" game during the 1980 Winter Olympics, is a spectacular place to visit in December, just before Christmas.

My family from Ottawa, ON (a 3-hour drive north of Lake Placid) decided to make the trip to watch the race. They enjoyed the festive decorations of the town, the Main Street shopping scene and the overall cottage charm of Lake Placid.

On race day, Lake Placid was unusually cold, windy and snowy. I pushed the door open against the wind and blowing snow.

I put my head down and walked over to the start line of the track, where I first learned how to slide.

My coach had my sled ready at the starting line. I walked over to meet him as my nerves started to settle down. My attention fixed on the Canada flag on his jacket while the clock counted the time of the athlete before me.

I am sitting in 4th place after our first descent and have one more chance at the track to better my position.

I took one last breath, knowing what I had to do.

I took off my snow gear and stood at the top of the track in my speed suit. The track cleared for me and I placed my sled into the spur dug out, into the ice, wasting no time as with every second the snow piled heavier.

I glanced to make sure the light was green, noticed the 27 seconds left on the countdown clock, and looked down at my feet.

I blast out. The noise from the cheering crowd is silenced now and all I can hear is the crunching noise my spikes are making as they dig into the ice. The sled feels heavier than the usual 30kg, so I run further knowing my start will be affected by all the snow.

While taking my last step, I switched my handling on the sled from one handed to two and dove on. The next 19 corners and mile of ice was a dance with a very specific rhythm at 120 km/h.

I crossed the finish line and broke form to try and slow the sled down. A few kids in the finishing straight have their small mitted hands hanging over the track waiting for high fives, and I reached my hand up to meet theirs.

Lake Placid
Mirela Rahneva sliding through Curve 10, named Shady, in Lake Placid, NY

My sled came to a stop and another coach from the Latvian team pats me on the back and lets me know I’ve kept my position. I exited the track and hugged my friend from Germany who was sitting in the leaders’ box, now in 5th position. As I entered the leader's box to watch the next slider come down, I thought about my first ever runs taken on a skeleton at this very track 4 years ago.

I watched the screen as another one of my friends began her final descent. We are neck and neck, all the way until the last two corners where a small mistake takes her back by four hundredths of a second (.04) over the two-heat combined time.

I realize I will be taking home my first World Cup medal.

I watched as the final two girls came down and am ecstatic to be among them — Lizzy Yarnold who is an Olympic Gold medalist from Sochi and Janine Flock, a World Cup Overall Champion in the 2015 season.

I will soon share the podium with them, and watch as the Canadian flag is raised in the 3rd place position because of my efforts!

Lizzy Yarnold, Janine Flock and Mirela Rahneva
From left to right Lizzy Yarnold (GBR), Janine Flock (AUT), Mirela Rahneva (CAN)

Top 3 Things to do in Lake Placid, New York

  • Check out the Miracle on Ice arena
  • Stroll Main Street for some great shopping
  • Grab a delicious sandwich from Simply Gourmet

Lake Placid World Cup Results for Canada:

Woman's Skeleton

Mirela Rahneva - Bronze

Elisabeth Vathje - 8th

Jane Channell - 16th

Men's Skeleton

Barett Martineau - 14th

Dave Greszczyszyn - 17th

Kevin Boyer - 24th

Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon!

Mirela Rahneva

Mirela Rahneva

Canadian Skeleton Team & True North Athlete

Read more about our other sponsored athletes