SKELETON: Lund Top American after Day One of Men's Skeleton World Championships
ALTENBERG, Germany-Thirty-one sliders from 17 nations began their quest for the World Championship crown in the first two heats of the men's skeleton competition in Altenberg, Germany today. Spring conditions early in the morning slowly changed into a cold, damp afternoon as spectators gathered at the track. Zach Lund (Salt Lake City, Utah) finished the first day of competition only 0.20 seconds from the medals in fifth position."The pressure is on the four people ahead of me,"Lund said."They'll have to think about it all night, and I don't have any stress going into tomorrow's final heats. I'm within reach of the medals, and that's all that matters right now."Lund pushed a start time of 5.24 seconds in the first run, and was on his way to the lead until a small mistake at the exit of Kreisel, which is a 360-degree corner the sliders must navigate with three high pressure points. Lund finished the first heat in fourth position with a time of 58.43 seconds. Pushing a start time of 5.25 seconds in the second heat, Lund encountered trouble at the exit of four, and was unable to make up the speed down the track. Crossing the line in 59.37 seconds, Lund finished the first day of competition in fifth position with a combined time of 1:57.80."If I can put those two runs together tomorrow, anything can happen,"Lund said"I know I can be in the top three."World Cup Champion Kristan Bromley continues to show his strength this season, leading the World Championships by 0.20 seconds. The Great British athlete slid runs of 58.13 and 58.90 for a combined time of 1:57.03. Currently in second is Germany's Florian Grassl with a total time of 1:57.23 after runs of 58.15 and 59.08. Jon Montgomery from Canada is third after sliding runs of 58.33 and 59.27 for a total of 1:57.60. Finishing in 12th position after the first two heats was Eric Bernotas (Avondale, Pa.) with a total time of 1:58.66. Bernotas slid a first run time of 59.41 seconds, 13th best of the first heat. Finding speed in the second run, Bernotas slid the eighth fastest run of the second heat, 59.25, and as still within reach of the top six standings."I wasn't happy after my first run, and I needed to regroup,"Bernotas said."I still had problems at the exit of four in the second run, but hopefully I can fix it tomorrow."Caleb Smith (Lake Placid, N.Y.) finished today in 19th position after sliding runs of 59.62 and 59.97 for a total time of 1:59.59. Eager to move up in standings after the first heat, Smith took a risk and let the sled run at the top of the track. A mistake at the exit of four caused the sled to flip on its side, but Smith was able to maintain contact with his sled and slide to the finish within reach of the top 15."The track was faster in the second run, and I went for it,"Smith said."I was trying to get more speed and let the sled run in four, but I ended up on my shoulder. It would have been a great run of I hadn't lost that speed. Tomorrow I'm going for it again, and I'll give everything I have."The men's skeleton competition will conclude tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 22 at 8 am EST. Watch as the U.S. team chases the podium LIVE on NBCOlympics.com. For complete results of today's race, please visit www.bobsleigh.com, the Web site of the Federation International de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganning (FIBT). Results: 1. Kristan Bromley (GBR) 1:57.03 (58.13, 58.90); 2. Florian Grassal (GER) 1:57.23 (58.15, 59.08); 3. Jon Montgomery (CAN) 1:57.60 (58.33, 59.27);_5. Zach Lund (USA) 1:57.80 (58.43, 59.37);_12. Eric Bernotas (USA) 1:58.95 (59.35, 59.60);_19. Caleb Smith (USA) 1:59.59 (59.62, 59.97); 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.