PARK CITY, Utah -- Canadian skeleton rookie Cassie Hawrysh showed she's ready to contend with the world's best, racing to fourth place in just the second World Cup of her career Friday.
The 27-year-old from Brandon, Man., finished in a two-run combined time of one minute 41.27 seconds on the Park City track, the skeleton venue for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
"Finishing fourth for me in just my second race is great so not getting on the podium doesn't matter at this point," said Hawrysh, who was 11th last week in Lake Placid. "I was in the mix in training this week, but training is training and you just never know on race day. I was really pleased with how it went."
American Katie Uhlaender won the gold, but was a bundle of nerves as she stood in the finish area, waiting for one final challenger to cross the line.
"It was like watching a scary movie and not wanting to really look," said Uhlaender, the reigning world champion.
When she did, she almost couldn't believe her eyes.
She had won gold, edging Britain's Elizabeth Yarnold by one-hundredth of a second, her combined time down the 15-curve course 1:40.93 seconds. Yarnold was second in 1:40.94. Germany's Anja Huber (1:41.21) took bronze.
Mellissa Hollingsworth of Eckville, Alta., was seventh. Calgary's Sarah Reid, who won the World Cup opener in Lake Placid last week, had a poor first run and finished 11th overall.
"I'm telling you I broke the curse when I won worlds," Uhlaender said of February's competition in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Before that the two-time Olympian was dealing with so much emotional upheaval, she had a hard time coping.
"I was in a really bad place for a long time," the 28-year-old Uhlaender said Friday.
She shattered her left kneecap in a snowmobile accident after the 2008-09 season -- about the same time she was dealing with the loss of her father, former major league outfielder and scout Ted Uhlaender. He had spent eight seasons with Minnesota, Cleveland and Cincinnati as a player, and died of cancer in February 2009.
After losing what she called her "foundation," she persevered through even more operations and a lengthy rehabilitation.
In May she was still in tears, telling her coach that she feared she'd never be the same again.
"I didn't have strength in my left leg, I couldn't do a single-leg squat, then all of a sudden in June, I started hitting the numbers I hit in 2007," said Uhlaender, who dominated the World Cup circuit with five golds during the 2006-07 season.
As Friday's race showed, she is back and building momentum.
"I'm finally healthy. I have no hip pain, no knee pain," she said.
The five-foot-three, 136-pound Colorado resident also has no more pain in her heart.
"When I won worlds, I felt like I was finally able to let go of the fact that my father is no longer here. It's motivated me even more to keep his legacy alive," she said.
That she does by wearing his 1972 National League championship ring around her neck, taped to her sports bra during races but visible along her collar as she accepted a bouquet of flowers atop the podium.
What would his reaction be to Friday's down-to-the wire win?
"He'd be jumping in his boots," Uhlaender said with a huge smile.
Uhlaender finished a disappointing fifth last week in Lake Placid, N.Y., in the season's first World Cup event.
But she hadn't participated in the team selection trials by virtue of her world victory, and wasn't familiar with the three-heat format.
She was primed Friday, and was second after the first run, then held on as Yarnold couldn't match her speed.
"It's so close right now, it could be anyone's day," Uhlaender said.