SKELETON: Daly Claims Bronze in St. Moritz Men's Skeleton Europa Cup
ST. MORITZ, Switzerland- The bobsled and skeleton Europa Cup circuit continued in St. Moritz, Switzerland on Wednesday, Jan. 16 and Thursday, Jan. 17. John Daly (Smithtown, N.Y.) claimed a bronze medal for the U.S. team in the men's skeleton competition, while Audrey Thompson (Phoenix, Ariz.) finished fifth in the women's skeleton race. Daly pushed a 5.15 second start time in the first run, sixth fastest of the heat, and immediately drove himself into the top four by the first interval. Finishing the first heat in 1:10.00, Daly entered the second run within reach of the podium. Pushing the fourth fastest push time of 5.22 seconds, Daly drove the second fastest run of the heat, a 1:09.66 for a two-run combined time of 2:19.66 to claim bronze. This was Daly's first time sliding on the high speed St. Moritz track, where he battled a competitive field of 37 sliders for the medal stand."St. Moritz is the best track in the world,"Daly said."The competition here was tough, but I had a race plan, stuck to it, and am proud to have won my first international medal here. I recently made some changes to my sled, and it has made a significant difference."Germany's Alexander Gaszner won his third Europa Cup gold medal this season on Thursday after dominating the competition with the fastest runs of the day, a 1:09.65 and 1:09.52, for a combined winning time of 2:19.17. World Cup athlete Pascal Oswald slid to a silver medal performance on his home track, tying Gaszner in the first heat, but falling behind by 0.21 seconds in the second heat with a run of 1:09.73. Finishing with a total time of 2:19.38, Oswald finished only 0.07 seconds ahead of Daly. Nick Vienneau (Salt Lake City, Utah) finished 27th after a first run time of one minute, 12.92 seconds. Only the top 20 sliders in the first heat are given a second run. In the women's field, Thompson also encountered the natural track for the first time. Despite pushing a 6.19, 21st of the heat, Thompson drove herself up 16 positions into fifth with a time of 1:12.98. Again overcoming a push of 6.30 seconds, Thompson drove a run of 1:13.51 seconds for a combined time of 2:26.49 to finish fifth in the competition. Thompson had the highest speed in the race of 131.5 km/h."Even though this was my first time sliding in Europe against a competitive field, I felt very prepared for the race and am very happy with how I performed,"Thompson said."The track is amazing, and I am looking forward to working on my push and coming back here again."Russian slider Bella Sterilikova claimed gold after runs of 1:12.52 and 1:12.28 for a total time of 2:24.80. Katharina Hamman from Germany finished second with a combined time of 2:25.56 after runs of 1:12.94 and 1:12.62, while Great British athlete Sarah Elisabeth Sydney won bronze with a two-run total of 2:26.17 (1:12.81, 1:13.36). Kelly Magnuson (Springfield, Ore.) slid into 19th place on Thursday after runs of 1:17.36 and 1:19.53 for a total time of 2:36.89."All of the athletes on our Europa Cup team have different levels of experience, and every single one of them performed exceptionally well,"said Marci Francis, Europa Cup skeleton coach."They all got significantly faster each run down the track, and I am incredibly proud of how they performed and how they represented their team and the United States."In two-man bobsled, Grayson Fertig (New York City, N.Y.) teamed with Chuck Berkeley (Clayton, Calif.) for a 13th place finish on Wednesday against a tough field of competitors. Fertig drove in St. Mortiz, the oldest bobsled track in the world and host of the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympic Games, for the first time."It was an honor to race here in St. Moritz,"Fertig said."I have heard so much about this experience, but still wasn't prepared for the majestic beauty of this track."Fertig drove a first run time of 1:08.29, 15th best of the first heat. Fertig and Berkeley pushed an impressive start time of 5.36 seconds, third fastest of the second heat, for a second run of 1:08.44. Fertig's second run was ninth best of the heat, moving the team up to 13th overall."I figured something new out on every run,"Fertig said."We went from 15th place in the first heat to 9th in the second, so I'd like to get another chance to race here."Beat Hefti and Thomas Lamparter once again claimed gold in dominant fashion. The Swiss team had the two fastest push times of the race, a 5.12 and 5.13, for the two fastest times of the competition, a 1:06.86 and 1:07.65, respectively. Hefti won with a combined time of 2:14.51, finishing 0.88 seconds ahead of the field. Germany's Oliver Harrass and Peter Tiefert finished second after runs of 1:07.38 and 1:08.01 for a total time of 2:15.39. Manuel Machata and Florian Beceke took bronze with a two-run total of 2:15.66 (1:07.63, 1:08.03). The Europa Cup circuit will conclude from Jan. 20-27. Bobsled will race in Cortina, Italy, while skeleton will compete in Winterberg, Germany for the final Europa Cup event. 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 Gasznar (GER) 2:19.17 (1:09.65, 1:09:52); 2. Pascal Oswald (SUI) 2:19.38 (1:09.65, 1:09.73); 3. John Daly (USA) 2:19.66 (1:10.00, 1:09.66);_27. Nick Vienneau (USA) (1:12.92, DNS) Women's Skeleton 1. Bella Sterlikova (RUS) 2:24.80 (1:12.52, 1:12.28); 2. Katharina Hamann (GER) 2:25.56 (1:12.94, 1:12.62) 3. Sarah Elisabeth Sydney (GBR) 2:26.17 (1:12.81, 1:13.36);_5. Audrey Thompson (USA) 2:26.49 (1:12.98, 1:13.51);_19. Kelly Magnuson (USA) 2:36.89 (1:17.36, 1:19.53) Men's Two-Man Bobsled 1. Beat Hefti and Thomas Lamparter (SUI) 2:14.51 (1:06.86, 1:07.65); 2. Oliver Harrass and Peter Tiefert (GER) 2:15.39 (1:07.38, 1:08.01) 3. Manuel Machata and Florian Becke (GER) 2:15.66 (1:07.63, 1:08.03);_13. Grayson Fertig and Chuck Berkeley (USA) 2:16.73 (1:08.29, 1:08.44) 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.