Canada sent three female skeleton athletes to Pyeongchang 2018, and Hallie Clarke is hoping to be part of the team at an upcoming Winter Olympic Games ©Getty Images

Hallie Clarke, the 17-year-old provincial skeleton champion of Alberta, has revealed she is targeting an appearance at the Winter Olympic Games at Milan Cortina 2026.

Clarke told The Intelligencer, the daily local newspaper of Belleville in Ontario, that she is aiming to become a part of Canada’s national team.

She finished 12th at the Youth Winter Olympic Games in Lausanne in Switzerland in 2020, after winning her first OMEGA series event in Park City in Utah in December 2019.

Clarke is now hoping she can earn a spot in the team for Beijing 2022, but has also been looking ahead to Milan Cortina 2026 as a chance to compete on the highest stage.

"I absolutely love competing internationally and it’s a long shot, but I’d love to represent Canada in 2022," she told the newspaper.

"I’m really young - I’ve been the youngest competitor in Canada for the last three years, so I’ll still only be 21 in 2026 when the Games are in Milan Cortina."

The skeleton athlete was recently granted CAD$5,000 (£3,500/$4,000/€4,270) of Petro-Canada funding, with a further $5,000 to her coach as part of the Fuelling Athletes and Coaching Excellence (FACE) programme, designed to support athletes’ ambitions to compete at the Olympics or Paralympics in the absence of Government funding.

Clarke is due to head to Whistler in October to train on the country’s only skeleton course, and admitted she "can’t wait to get going again".

She added that watching Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo has further inspired her, commenting "that’s exactly what I want to do".

Whistler hosts Canada's only skeleton course, where Jon Montgomery won a home gold at Vancouver 2010 ©Getty Images
Whistler hosts Canada's only skeleton course, where Jon Montgomery won a home gold at Vancouver 2010 ©Getty Images

The young prospect first discovered the sport when her family settled in Calgary in 2018, and tried the course at the Icehouse at the Canadian Olympic Village for the first time after three months of training.

"I thought this looks really cool and I should give it a try - I didn’t even know what skeleton was when I saw that sign," Clarke admitted.

"I grew up figure skating and when we lived in Boston I played lacrosse, but I’m always looking a new things and skeleton looked interesting to say the least.

"I crashed the very first time I went and I thought, if I don’t get right back up there and do this again, I might never do it.

"It went much better and I had so much fun and I didn’t want to stop."

Mellisa Hollingsworth-Richards won Canada’s first skeleton medal at a Winter Olympics - a bronze in the women’s competition at Turin 2006 – and Duff Gibson and Jeff Pain then won gold and silver in the men’s skeleton in the Italian city.

Jon Montgomery earned a gold on home soil at Vancouver 2010 in the men’s skeleton.

At Pyeongchang 2018, the maximum permitted three male and three female skeleton athletes were selected by Canada.

The best performance came from Elisabeth Vathje, who finished ninth in the women's event.