Canadian bobsledder Cynthia Appiah knows she’s on the radar heading into a new season.
The 32-year-old Torontonian grabbed attention last year, concluding third overall in the women’s monobob world series and taking eighth place finishes in both monobob and two-woman bobsleigh at the Beijing Olympics.
Expectations are high as Appiah and the rest of Team Canada kick off a new bobsleigh and skeleton World Cup season in Whistler, B.C., on Thursday.
“The opportunity is there to continue on with that momentum that was created,” Appiah said. “I’ve got a target on my back.”
Live coverage of the World Cup started Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET with men’s skeleton. Action continues through Saturday.
The Canadian contingent will be full of fresh faces this season.
Several veterans bobsledders retired after last year’s Beijing Games, counting two-time Olympic medalist Justin Kripps and his teammates Ryan Sommer and Cameron Stone. Fellow pilot Chris Spring won’t compete this season after undergoing knee surgery in April.
The absences make way for emerging athletes like Taylor Austin, a pilot who’s moved up from the development team to the squad that will compete on the World Cup circuit.
“It’s exciting. Very exciting. It’s something that I’ve always dreamt of,” said the 32-year-old Calgarian. “But now that we’re in the space, I’m just trying to navigate and be the best that I can be and kind of see where I stack up to the rest of the world.”
There are changes on the women’s side, too, after pilot Christine de Bruin — who won Olympic bronze in Beijing — was handed a three-year suspension for a doping violation earlier this month.
It was more bad news for an already embattled national sporting organization.