KOENIGSSEE, Germany- Defending World Cup Champion Zach Lund (Salt Lake City, Utah) slid to a fifth place finish today in the men's skeleton World Cup in Koenigssee, Germany. The first heat produced unpredictable results as snow fell intermittently, but cleared skies in the second heat allowed the American to move up six positions for a fifth place result. Lund continues to sit second in overall World Cup standings."I've had to climb my way back up this year,"Lund said."Even though I'm the defending World Cup Champion, I've been the one clawing my way back up, trying to get back into it. I had a rough start to the season, so I'm pleased to be in second overall right now."Lund battled the erratic snowstorm in the first heat, pushing a start time of 4.84 seconds for a first run time of 49.71 seconds. Sitting in 11th place, the defending World Cup Champion composed himself for a second run."The snow got me and I made some mistakes in the first heat,"Lund said."It was what it was. I watched as the sky cleared up before the second heat, and my goal was to be the fastest in the heat to prove that I could have been on the podium."Bettering his start time by 0.05 seconds, the American cruised down the course nearly flawlessly, finishing the run in 48.85 seconds, third fastest of the heat. Lund stood in the leader's box as his combined time of 1:38.56 surpassed five sleds, moving him into fifth place."I was only five-hundredths of a second from the fastest time in the second heat,"Lund said."I was able to move up, so I was happy with the result."Hometown hero Florian Grassel led the field with the two fastest times of the day, a 48.75 and 48.80, to claim gold with a total time of 1:37.55. Current World Cup leader Kristan Bromley from Great Britain finished 0.26 seconds behind the German with a combined time of 1:37.81 after runs of 49.00 and 48.84. In third was Latvia's Tomass Dukurs with a two-run total of 1:38.11 (48.99, 49.12). The"Russian Rocket"Alexander Tretiakov broke his own start record today by 0.03 seconds in the second heat, pushing a start time of 4.56 seconds. Eric Bernotas (Avondale, Pa.), who has finished no lower than sixth this season in World Cup results, finished 19th today. Bernotas struggled with the variable conditions, sliding a first run time of 50.03 seconds. Unable to move up in the second heat after difficulties exiting Kreisel, Bernotas finished 19th after sliding a second run of 49.94 for a combined time of 1:39.97. Caleb Smith (Lake Placid, N.Y.) finished 21st today after a first run time of 50.32 seconds. Only the top 20 sleds slide in the second heat. The next and final stop of the World Cup tour will be in Winterberg, Germany from Feb. 4-10. Lund will look to reclaim his overall title from Great Britain's Kristan Bromley."I just want to do my best next week,"Lund said."If I finish second, I'll be happy. But I'll definitely be aiming for the victory."For complete results of today's race, visit www.bobsleigh.com, the Web site of the Federation International de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganning (FIBT). Results: 1. Florian Grassel (GER) 1:37.55 (48.75, 48.80); 2. Kristan Bromley (GBR) 1:37.81 (49.00, 48.81); 3. Tomass Dukurs (LAT) 1:38.11 (48.99, 49.12);_5. Zach Lund (USA) 1:38.56 (49.71, 48.85);_19. Eric Bernotas (USA) 1:39.97 (50.03, 49.94);_21. Caleb Smith (USA) (50.32, DNS); About the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation
The United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. The USBSF would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: Allianz Life, Columbia Sportswear Company, Speedo, CW-X, KBC Helmets, ULU Boots, Racing Electronics, Schenker Logistics, Lumber Liquidators and Whelen Engineering. For more information, please visit the USBSF Web site at www.usbsf.com.