Yamada and Bernotas Win Skeleton Races; Rohbock Once Again in Women's Bobsled Lead

Oct. 16, 2008, 4:05 p.m. (ET)

Contact: Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager

(518) 523-1842, ext 106, abird@usbsf.com

For Immediate Release

October 16, 2008

Yamada and Bernotas Win Skeleton Races; Rohbock Once Again in Women's Bobsled Lead

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -U.S. bobsled and skeleton team trials continued today in wet conditions at the Olympic Sports Complex in Lake Placid, N.Y.  Courtney Yamada (Boise, Idaho) and Eric Bernotas (Avondale, Pa.) made their bid for the World Cup team by winning the women's and men's skeleton competitions, respectively, while Shauna Rohbock (Park City, Utah) and Michelle Rzepka (Novi, Mich.) put themselves in the lead after the first two heats of the second women's bobsled competition.

Yamada began the sport in the fall of 2002 and has steadily progressed as one of the U.S. team's top athletes.  Yamada won the first of four women's skeleton finals competitions with a total time of 1:55.83, just 0.02 seconds ahead of 2007 World Champion Noelle Pikus-Pace (Orem, Utah). 

"It's a weight off my shoulders to get a win under my belt," said Yamada.  "I want to have more fun this year and be more relaxed with my sliding.  I used to get stressed out, and now I've learned how to chill out."

Bursting off the starting block with a push time of 5.34 seconds, Yamada slid the foggy course in 57.61 seconds. Pushing 5.38 in the second heat, Yamada slid to the finish in 58.22 seconds for a total combined time of 1:55.83.

"I knew it might not be the greatest weather for our race today, but the track crew did an awesome job getting the ice prepared for the weather we had today," said Yamada.

Pikus-Pace is making her comeback after having her first child, Lacee Lynne, with husband Janson Pace.  Pikus-Pace finished second today, 0.02 seconds behind Yamada, with a total time of 1:55.85.

"Courtney did a great job today," said Pikus-Pace.  "She's always been one of our top athletes, and her push times are phenomenal."

Switching from a two-handed push to a one-handed technique this summer, Pikus-Pace has continued to improve her start since breaking her leg in 2005.  Pushing a 5.62 in the first heat, Pikus-Pace raced to the finish line in 57.49 seconds, the fastest of the competition.  In the second heat, Pikus-Pace pushed a 5.64, but popped out of the start groove before entering corner one.  Sliding to the finish in 58.36 seconds, Pikus-Pace fell behind Yamada to place second.

"This is the first time I've ever popped out the groove in a race," said Pikus-Pace.  "When something doesn't go the way you planned, you want to push the panic button.  I had to make myself focus, get back into position, and to leave the past behind and move forward.  It was a good experience for me, and I'm actually happy with how today went."

Keslie Tomlinson (Potomac Falls, Va.) claimed third with a total time of 1:56.26.  Tomlinson pushed times of 5.64 and 5.67 for finish times of 58.03 and 58.23, respectively.

2007 World Cup Champion Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) has a bye onto the 2008-09 World Cup team.  The two-time World Championship foreran the competition today, but feels fortunate to not have to race.

"I have a lot going on in my life right now, so the bye couldn't have come at a better time," said Uhlaender.  "My dad is battling cancer, and I had a knee surgery this summer, so I've had to prepare for this season much differently.  I plan on showing up to every day ready to throw down, and claiming the world championship title in February is my main goal for this season."

Eric Bernotas (Avondale, Pa.), who finished the 2007-08 season ranked fourth in World Cup standings, won the first men's skeleton finals competition today with a combined time of 1:52.98.  Despite the inclement weather, Bernotas was able to push a 5.04 in the first heat for a finish time of 56.03 seconds, the fastest of the race.

"You don't have control over the weather," said Bernotas.  "It forces you to dig deep, figure out how to make it happen, and then execute that plan."

In the second heat, Bernotas pushed a 5.05 for a down time of 56.95, giving him the lead amongst a competitive men's field. 

"We have a tough men's field, and the races are close," said Bernotas. "My brother wrote a poem a few years ago titled, ‘A New Day,' which is about competition and people coming up and pushing you.  You can't be fearful of that, but you have to let it motivate you."

Caleb Smith (Lake Placid, N.Y.) made his first step towards claiming a World Cup position by placing second today with a total time of 1:53.06.  Smith pushed identical start times of 5.23 in both heats for down times of 56.14 and 56.92.

In third was Kyle Tress (Trenton, N.J.) with a total time of 1:53.22, just 0.16 seconds from Smith.  Tress pushed times of 5.03 and 5.06 for finish times of 56.12 and 57.10.

"I feel lucky to have a bye this year after watching the race," said Zach Lund (Salt Lake City, Utah), who has a bye onto the 2008-09 World Cup team.  "It's very competitive, and it's fun to watch when it's this close."

In the women's bobsled second team trials race, 2006 Olympic silver medalist Shauna Rohbock (Park City, Utah) teamed with Michelle Rzepka (Novi, Mich.) to lead in the first two of four heats with a time of 2:00.25.  Rohbock and Rzepka pushed times of 5.71 and 5.66 for finish times of 1:00.28 and 59.97 to put them in the lead.

"The conditions were frosty today from the weather, which is the easiest condition to drive in because it provides the most control," said Rohbock.  "I'm mentally prepared for the season, but I'm physically lacking because I had a late start in my training.  I'm not as young as the other drivers, so I have to train smarter, not harder."

Erin Pac (Farmington, Conn.) and Elana Meyers (Douglasville, Ga.) teamed together today for the fastest push times of the competition, a 5.59 and 5.60.  The duo is currently in second after sliding runs of 1:00.44 and 1:00.69 for a two-heat total of 2:01.13.

Jamia Jackson (Lake City, Fla.) and Bethany Hart (Grafton, Ma.) are sitting in third position with a two-heat combined time of 2:03.17.  Jackson and Hart pushed times of 5.68 and 5.67 for finish times of 1:01.85 and 1:01.32.

Competition will continue tomorrow, Friday, October 17th.  Women's and men's skeleton will kick off at 9:30 am EST, with women's and four-man bobsled following at 11:30 am.

For more information, please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager, at (518) 523-1842, ext. 106, or at abird@usbsf.com


Women's Skeleton #1:

1. Courtney Yamada 1:55.83 (57.61, 58.22); 2. Noelle Pikus-Pace 1:55.85 (57.49, 58.36); 3. Keslie Tomlinson 1:56.26 (58.03, 58.23); 4. Rebecca Sorensen 1:56.57 (58.07, 58.50); 5. Annie O'Shea 1:56.86 (58.13, 58.73); 6. Rachelle Rasmussen 1:59.02 (59.71, 59.31); 7. Cassie Revelli 1:59.32 (59.73, 59.59); 8. Katie Koczynski 1:59.41 (59.50, 59.91); 9. Kimber Gabryszak 2:01.92 (1:00.24, 1:01.68);

Men's Skeleton #2:

1. Eric Bernotas 1:52.98 (56.03, 56.95); 2. Caleb Smith 1:53.06 (56.14, 56.92); 3. Kyle Tress 1:53.22 (56.12, 57.10); 4. Matt Antoine 1:53.38 (56.29, 57.09); 5. Stokes Aitken 1:53.71 (56.11, 57.60); 6. John Daly 1:53.78 (56.54, 57.24); 7. Kevin Ellis 1:53.90 (56.65, 57.25); 8. Luke Schulz 1:54.46 (56.87, 57.59); 9. Chris Burgess 1:54.60 (57.13, 57.47); 10. Chris Hedquist 1:55.18 (57.24, 57.94);

Women's Bobsled #2 Heats 1 & 2:

1. Shauna Rohbock and Michelle Rzepka 2:00.13 (1:00.28, 59.97); 2. Erin Pac and Elana Meyers 2:01.13 (1:00.44, 1:00.69); 3. Jamia Jackson and Bethany Hart 2:03.17 (1:01.85, 1:01.32); 4. Phoebe Burns and Jazmine Fenlator 2:03.38 (1:01.27, 1:02.11); 5. Bree Schaaf and Emily Azevedo 2:04.05 (1:02.01, 1:02.04);

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, Vilter Manufacturing, CW-X, KBC Helmets and ULU Boots. The USBSF would also like to thank the following sponsors and suppliers for their partner, the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project:  Whelen Engineering, PPG, Columbia Sportswear, JEGS Automotive, Lucas Oil, Mac Tools and Racing Electronics.  For more information, please visit the USBSF website at http://bobsled.teamusa.org/.