SKELETON: Tomlinson and Smith Claim U.S. National Championship Titles
LAKE PLACID, N.Y.- Keslie Tomlinson (Potomac Falls, Va.) and Caleb Smith (Lake Placid, N.Y.) won their respective U.S. National Championship titles today at the Olympic Sports Complex in Lake Placid, N.Y."This was a fun race for me, and I'm feeling really good about today's result,"Tomlinson said."I'm learning more each day I go down the track here, and the conditions were amazing thanks to the track crew."Tomlinson claimed her first U.S. National Championship title today after runs of 57.48 and 57.94 for a total time of 1:55.42, despite falling at the start before the second heat and cutting her knee."I don't know many people who've fallen before they've gone down the track, but I had a little accident and slipped while going to the start line,"Tomlinson said with a laugh."I felt good that I was able to compose myself and focus on my run. I learned a lot about myself, and I'm excited about competing on the Intercontinental Cup circuit in North America."World Cup athlete Annie O'Shea (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.) had the second fastest combined time in today's competition (1:55.54), but was disqualified for being one kilogram overweight."My goal was to come back to Lake Placid and to have two consistent runs, which I did during training,"O'Shea said."Today was disappointing, but like Orvie [Garrett, skeleton head coach] said, it's better that it happened now rather than in a World Cup competition. Now I'm looking forward to the remainder of the season, and my main goal is to win Junior World Championships."Junior World Championships will take place in Igls, Austria from February 4-10. Finishing second was Amanda Bird (Cohoes, N.Y.), former National Team skeleton athlete and current Marketing and Communications Manager for the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (a.k.a.: me), with a total time of 2:00.69 after runs of 1:00.32 and 1:00.37."I had a blast getting back on the ice,"I said."I have so much respect for the dedication these athletes put into this sport, and it was a great opportunity for me to once again experience the thrill of sliding. Today was a two-minute reminder of why I love my job."Mandy Jenkins (Wallkill, N.Y.) began sliding this fall, and finished with the bronze medal today after runs of 1:01.86 and 1:02.63 for a combined time of 2:04.49. Jenkins will return to Lake Placid this February to slide in the development program. U.S. National Championships was more than a race for the title in the men's field, but also a race for the third World Cup position on the team. By winning the title today, Smith kept his spot on the team for the second half of the season."I wanted to correct the mistakes I made here during the World Cup race, which I did,"Smith said."It was definitely a relief, and hopefully I can carry this momentum into the second half of the season."Smith slid identical runs of 55.46 seconds in the two-heat race for a combined time of 1:50.92 to take the gold."My focus was staying on the World Cup team,"Smith said."I realized I needed to worry about the track and the job in front of me, and not anything or anyone else."Current World Cup leader and four-time National Champion Eric Bernotas (Avondale, Pa.) finished second with a total time of 1:50.98. Bernotas had runs of 55.58 and 55.40, second and first fastest of the competition, respectively, finishing just 0.06 seconds from the lead."Racing today was a good opportunity to get back into race mode and refresh myself,"Bernotas said."It's like a tune-up race. We start to feel good by the time we race in the third World Cup competition, but then we go right into a break, which is tough. So this competition was important, because it gave me the chance to get back into the rhythm of competition."John Daly (Smithtown, N.Y.) had the third fastest overall time (1:51.66), but was disqualified for being overweight. Finishing with the bronze was Intercontinental Cup slider Matt Antoine (Prairie du Chien, Wis.) with a combined time of 1:51.87 after runs of 55.98 and 55.89. The World Cup team will race again in Cesana, Italy from Jan. 14-20, while the Intercontinental Cup and America's Cup teams will compete in Park City, Utah from Jan. 6-13. Don't miss the World Cup action LIVE and on-demand on www.nbcsports.com, courtesy of Media Zone. Results: Women's Skeleton 1. Keslie Tomlinson 1:55.42 (57.48, 57.94); 2. Amanda Bird 2:00.69 (1:00.32, 1:00.37); 3. Mandy Jenkins 2:04.49 (1:01.86, 1:02.63); 4. Liz Swaney 2:13.48 (1:06.41, 1:07.07; Annie O'Shea 1:55.54 (57.57, 57.97) DSQ; Men's Skeleton 1. Caleb Smith 1:50.92 (55.46, 55.46); 2. Eric Bernotas 1:50.98 (55.58, 55.40); 3. Matt Antoine 1:51.87 (55.98, 55.89); 4. Luke Schulz 1:52.73 (56.11, 56.62); 5. Kyle Tress 1:52.82 (56.27, 56.55); 6. Chris Burgess 1:53.57 (56.75, 56.82); 7. Ralph Mirabelli 1:56.75 (58.65, 58.10); 8. Jeff Kempa 1:57.91 (58.86, 59.05); John Daly 1:51.66 (55.66, 55.40) DSQ; 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.