Nikitina, implicated in Sochi, wins World Cup skeleton title
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Elena Nikitina, one of the athletes who was implicated in the doping scandal that overshadowed the 2014 Sochi Olympics, has become the first Russian to win the World Cup women’s skeleton overall points championship.
Nikitina clinched the title with a fifth-place finish in Saturday’s season finale. Germany’s Tina Hermann won Saturday’s race and wound up second in the overall points race for the third straight year.
Canada’s Mirela Rahneva finished second, clinching third place in the points race. Laura Deas won the bronze for Britain’s first World Cup medal of the season in any sliding sport.
Kendall Wesenberg was ninth in the final race to lead the U.S., and she ended the year sixth in the world standings.
Germany’s Jacqueline Loelling, who won the last two World Cup titles and led the standings going into this weekend’s two races in Calgary, wound up No. 5 in the points race. Loelling did not compete in either race this weekend because of a family matter.
Nikitina won the bronze medal at the Sochi Games, eventually had that result stripped by the International Olympic Committee — and then had the medal reinstated in a ruling last year. Before this season, no Russian woman had even finished in the top three spots of the World Cup standings.
The only other Russian skeleton athlete to win a World Cup title was Alexander Tretiakov, who was also implicated in the Sochi doping scandal. Tretiakov was the 2008-09 men’s champion, and leads this season’s race over reigning Olympic champion Yun Sungbin of South Korea going into the men’s finale on Sunday.