SKELETON: Antoine and O'Shea Lead U.S. in Skeleton Junior World Championships
IGLS, Austria- Matt Antoine (Prairie du Chien, Wisc.) and Annie O'Shea (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.) were the top U.S. sliders in the skeleton Junior World Championships, finishing fourth and ninth, respectively, in Igls, Austria today."I'm very happy with this young group of sliders,"said Martin Rettl, U.S. driving coach and 2002 Olympic silver medalist."They are all very talented with great potential in this sport, and I'm very proud of them."In the men's field, Antoine and teammate John Daly (Smithtown, N.Y.) were tied for fourth position after the first heat after pushing identical start times of 5.16 seconds for a matching finish time of 54.32 seconds. The two Americans were just 0.19 seconds from the medals leading into the final heat. Recently crowned Intercontinental Cup Champion Antoine had the third fastest run of the second heat, a 54.25, after pushing a start time of 5.15 seconds. Antoine finished fourth with a two-run total of 1:48.57, just .022 seconds from third in a competitive field of sliders."I feel like this has been a phenomenal season for me,"Antoine said."Before the season began, I didn't imagine I'd do this well. I'm pleased with how the season went, and I'm hoping to carry this momentum into next season."Antoine competed in the team event last weekend in Koenigsse, Germany, his first-ever World Cup competition, where he helped claim bronze for the U.S. Winning his first World Cup medal helped Antoine enter today's competition with confidence."I was really excited to have the chance to race in my first World Cup competition last week in Koenigssee,"Antoine said."It was low pressure, and being a part of the team competition was a lot of fun. Racing last weekend gave me a lot of confidence coming into this race."Daly, who finished the Europa Cup circuit ranked fifth despite missing a few races, slid a second run time of 54.62 seconds after pushing a time of 5.20 seconds. Sliding a combined time of 1:48.94, Daly finished seventh."Training went well all week, so I felt good coming into the race today,"Daly said."My first run felt great, and I was hoping I could clean it up even more in the second run. But that didn't happen."Alexander Tretiakov, nicknamed the"Russian Rocket"on the World Cup circuit, claimed the Junior World Championship title with a total time of 1:47.16. Tretiakov dominated the competition from start to bottom with start times of 4.85 and 4.88 for finish times of 53.47 and 53.69, respectively. Great Britain's David Swift powered off the starting block with times of 5.11 and 5.08 for finish times of 54.13 and 53.97, respectively. Swift claimed silver with a combined time of 1:48.10, 0.94 seconds behind the Russian. Alexander Gaszner from Germany slid to a bronze medal finish with a two-run time of 1:48.35. The German, who won five medals on the Europa Cup circuit, slid runs of 54.04 and 54.31. In the women's competition, World Cup athlete O'Shea started the competition by powering off the block with the second fastest start time of 5.51 seconds for a fourth place run of 55.84 seconds, putting her within reach of the medals. Unfortunately, O'Shea strained her hamstring during the push, forcing her to compromise her start in the second run."I was completely warmed up, so I don't understand why my hamstring knotted up,"O'Shea said."This is my learning year. I've popped the groove at the start in a competition and I crashed in a World Cup race, and both times I was able to learn from the experience. I know I can recover from today and be ready for World Championships."O'Shea had her first career crash last week in the women's skeleton World Cup in Koenigssee, Germany, but recovered the next day to compete in the team competition for her first-ever World Cup medal, a bronze."I was so nervous after my crash in the Koenigssee,"O'Shea said."But as soon as I got back on my sled the next day, I forgot about everything and had my best run on that track."O'Shea pushed a 5.93 in the second heat, nearly half a second slower than her first heat start time, for a run of 56.73. Crossing the line with a total time of 1:52.57, O'Shea finished ninth. The women's skeleton Junior World Championship title was a battle between Canada's Sarah Reid and Germany's Katharina Heinz. Reid slid the fastest time of the competition, a 55.37, in the first heat for a lead of 0.21 seconds entering the second heat. Heinz slid a first run time of 55.62, but recovered with the fastest time of the second heat, a 55.42, to finish with a combined time of 1:51.04. Despite Heinz's efforts, Reid slid a second run of 55.65, claiming the title with a total time of 1:51.02, just 0.02 seconds ahead of the field. Russia's Olga Korobkina moved up two positions to finish with a combined time of 1:51.48 for the bronze. Korobkina slid runs of 55.89 and 55.59, finishing 0.46 seconds behind leader Reid. Cassie Revelli (Highland, Utah) finished 18th today with a combined time of 1:55.20 after runs of 57.25 and 57.95."I had trouble with the track all week,"Revelli said."I still learned a lot, and I definitely think I can put together what I learned for my next race."Jessica Palmer (Roy, Utah) finished the first run in 13th position, but opted not to take a second run due to a pulled hamstring suffered on the final day of training."I could barely walk when I got to the finish, so I didn't take a second run,"Palmer said."I'm glad I was able to come out and get the experience on this track. I learned a lot from Martin this week and progressed as a slider."There were 24 sliders from 14 nations that competed in Junior World Championships. The slider that won each of their respective competitions earned an additional spot for their nation in World Championships, which will take place in Altenberg, Germany from Feb. 21-24. 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: Men's Skeleton
1. Alexander Tretiakov (RUS) 1:47.16 (53.47, 53.69); 2. David Swift (GBR) 1:48.10 (54.13, 53.97); 3. Alexander Gaszner (GER) 1:48.35 (54.04, 54.31); 4. Matt Antoine (USA) 1:48.57 (54.32, 54.25);_7. John Daly (USA) 1:48.94 (54.32, 54.62); Women's Skeleton
1. Sarah Reid (CAN) 1:51.02 (55.37, 55.65); 2. Katharina Heinz (GER) 1:51.04 (55.62, 55.42); 3. Olga Korobkina (RUS) 1:51.48 (55.89, 55.59);_9. Annie O'Shea 1:52.57 (55.84, 56.73);_18. Cassie Revelli (USA) 1:55.21 (57.58, 57.63);_ 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.