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Canada's Elisabeth Vathje places sixth at skeleton world championships

IGLS, Austria — Canada's Elisabeth Vathje had her best result of the season with a sixth-place finish on Saturday at the skeleton world championships.

Struggling to find her elite form that saw her win a bronze medal at the premiere international skeleton race one year ago, the Calgary native demonstrated her potential after clocking a sixth-place time of three minutes 37.48 seconds.

Vathje had posted the fifth, eighth, third and sixth fastest times in each of her four runs over the last two days on the 1,478-metre track located near Innsbruck, Austria.

Vathje had a dream rookie season on the World Cup one year ago that saw her capture one gold and three silver medals on the World Cup before capping the season off with a bronze at the world championships. One of her silvers came in Igls.

Tina Hermann held on to her opening-day lead to win the women's skeleton world title for Germany's first gold medal in five years.

Overall World Cup leader Hermann won three of the four heats to beat European champion Janine Flock of Austria by 0.46 seconds.

Elena Nikitina of Russia, who won the junior world title here three years ago, was the fastest starter in all heats and finished 0.59 behind Hermann to take bronze.

"It's incredible. When I came out of the (turn) nine, I knew that I'd won it," said Hermann, who led Flock by 0.27 going into the final heat. "I was so excited that I started to make a few mistakes but I knew nothing could happen to me anymore."

German teammate Sophia Griebel was the fastest in the only heat Hermann didn't win, and finished 1.05 off the lead in seventh.

The 23-year-old Hermann, who won the junior world title in 2010, is having a breakthrough season on senior level. She won four of seven World Cup races and was runner-up to Flock for the European title two weeks ago. This time, however, she led the Austrian from the opening heat.

Jane Channell of North Vancouver, B.C., made a costly mistake at the bottom of her second run that dropped her from sixth to 18th at the completion of the opening day. The 27 year old didn't go down without a fight, and climbed back into 13th place with a time of 3:38.50.

Calgary's Lanette Prediger rounded out the Canadian contingent with a 19th-place finish at 3:40.43.

The Canadian Press

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