Pikus-Pace and Bernotas Secure U.S. Skeleton World Cup Team Spots

Oct. 24, 2008, 11:43 p.m. (ET)
Contact: Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager

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

For Immediate Release

October 24, 2008

Pikus-Pace and Bernotas Secure U.S. Skeleton World Cup Team Spots

PARK CITY, Utah -U.S. skeleton national team trials continued tonight at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah.  Noelle Pikus-Pace (Orem, Utah) and Eric Bernotas (Avondale, Pa.) secured their World Cup spots by winning the women's and men's skeleton competitions, respectively, on the 2002 Olympic track today.

"I am so excited to compete on the World Cup tour this year," said Pikus-Pace.  "I'm determined to give my best at every race."

Pikus-Pace won the competition by 1.01 seconds with a combined time of 1:41.80 after sliding the fastest runs of the competition, an identical 50.90 in both heats.

Pikus-Pace is returning to competition this season with a new fan in tow, daughter Lacee Lynne Pace. 

"Lacee started crying when I got to the line, and I had to convince myself she was cheering for me," said Pikus-Pace.  "I don't think it affected me, and it's something I've had to prepare for."

Pikus-Pace also pushed her personal best start time of 5.15 seconds on the 2002 Olympic track tonight.

"I was so happy about my push time," said Pikus-Pace.  "Today felt great.  I still plan on racing in tomorrow's final team trials race.  It's great experience, and it's an honor to be competing against such great athletes.  I'll be competing in the America's Cup race next week, so the more I can race, the better prepared I'll be."

Courtney Yamada (Boise, Idaho), who won the first team trials race in Lake Placid, N.Y. this season, finished second today.  Yamada finished with a total time of 1:42.81 after sliding runs of 51.33 and 51.48.

"It's good to have three solid races finished, and I feel like I can relax tomorrow," said Yamada. 

Yamada burst off the starting block, pushing the two fastest start times of the competition, a 5.05 and 4.99.

"I didn't know it was going to be that fast," said Yamada with a laugh.  "I trained hard this summer and I felt good coming into this season.  I didn't know what to expect, but it feels great to be pushing so well."

Annie O'Shea (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.) and Keslie Tomlinson (Potomac Falls, Va.) tied for third with a combined time of 1:43.13.  O'Shea had the second fastest push times of the competition, a 5.08 and 5.09, for runs of 51.35 and 51.78, respectively.  Tomlinson, the 2008 National Champion, pushed identical times of 5.21 for runs of 51.39 and 51.74.

Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) earned a bye onto the 2008-09 World Cup team, and is exempt from team trials after winning her second consecutive World Cup title and a silver World Championship medal during the 2007-08 season. 

Eric Bernotas (Avondale, Pa.) solidified his spot on the 2008-09 World Cup team today by winning his third national team trials competition this year with a combined time of 1:39.80. 

"It's great being able to compete on two different tracks for team trials," said Bernotas.  "You start getting into a rhythm when you slide on one track, so having the ability to slide on a second track is a huge advantage.  It allows you to fine tune things."

Bernotas pushed times of 4.72 and 4.79 for the fastest runs of the competition, a 49.57 and 50.23, respectively.

"I was relaxed, but anxious this morning," said Bernotas.  "It's a relief to know I qualified for the World Cup team after tonight's race, but I definitely still have to improve on some things."

Finishing 0.43 seconds behind Bernotas for second place was Stokes Aitken (Salt Lake City, Utah) with a total time of 1:40.23 after sliding runs of 49.88 and 50.35.  Aitken pushed the sixth best start times of the competition, a 4.82 and 4.84, and drove himself up into second position.

Tying for third was 2008 National Champion Caleb Smith (Lake Placid, N.Y.) and 2007 Intercontinental Cup Champion Matt Antoine (Prairie du Chien) with a total time of 1:40.35.  Smith pushed times of 4.92 and 4.90 for finish times of 50.08 and 50.27, respectively.  Antoine pushed a 4.82 and 4.79, sliding runs of 50.10 and 50.25 to tie his teammate for third.

"This has been a challenging team trials," said Bernotas.  "These have been exhausting races, but they're essential because it allows you to refine your skills before the competitive season.  We have a very competitive group of men on our team, which really pushes each of us to be our best."

Zach Lund (Salt Lake City, Utah) finished the 2007-08 season ranked third in the world, earning him a bye onto the 2008-09 World Cup team and exempting him from team trials. 

U.S. national skeleton team trials will conclude tomorrow, Saturday, October 25th at 5 pm MST.  Members of the U.S. skeleton World Cup team will be officially announced directly following the final competition. 

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


Women's Skeleton:

1. Noelle Pikus-Pace 1:41.80 (50.90, 50.90); 2. Courtney Yamada 1:42.81 (51.33, 51.48); 3. Annie O'Shea 1:43.13 (51.35, 51.78); 3. Keslie Tomlinson 1:43.13 (51.39, 51.74); 5. Rebecca Sorensen 1:43.30 (51.55, 51.75); 6. Kimber Gabryszak 1:43.77 (51.72, 52.05); 7. Katie Koczynski 1:44.21 (51.89, 52.32); 8. Cassie Revelli 1:44.94 (52.39, 52.55); 9. Rachelle Rasmussen 1:45.83 (53.17, 52.66);

Men's Skeleton:

1. Eric Bernotas 1:39.80 (49.57, 50.23); 2. Stokes Aitken 1:40.23 (49.88, 50.35); 3.Caleb Smith 1:40.35 (50.08, 50.27); 3. Matt Antoine 1:40.35 (50.10, 50.25); 5. John Daly 1:40.60 (49.96, 50.64); 6. Kevin Ellis 1:40.63 (50.43, 50.34); 7. Chris Hedquist 1:40.80 (50.34, 50.46); 8. Kyle Tress 1: 41.14 (50.65, 50.49); 9. Luke Schulz 1:41.57 (50.74, 50.83); 10. Chris Burgess 1:41.93 (51.05, 50.88);

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/.