USA Bobsled and Skeleton

Schaaf and Napier in U.S. National Championship Lead

Jan. 03, 2009, 6:48 p.m. (ET)
Contact: Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager

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

For Immediate Release

January 3, 2008

Schaaf and Napier in U.S. National Championship Lead 


Lake Placid, N.Y.- U.S. Bobsled National Championships began today in conjunction with the Whelen Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge at the Olympic Sports Complex in Lake Placid, N.Y.  Nine sleds navigated 20-curves in their bid for the U.S. National Championship title in the first two of four heats today, while 12 NASCAR and NHRA drivers slid their final qualification runs in modified sleds.  U.S. National Championships will conclude tomorrow with the final two runs, and the winner with the lowest combined time will be the third U.S sled entered into the 2009 World Championships in Lake Placid this February.

"It's exciting to see a tight competition like this," said Darrin Steele, USBSF chief executive officer.  "The Bodyn Project continues to aid our program, and we've got an impressive fleet of sleds that's growing each year.  For us to see American-made sleds that are the best in the world out here competing in National Championships is great.  The four heat format models what these athletes will face at World Championships, and we'll be entering six competitive sleds this February."

Bree Schaaf (Bremerton, Wash.) is currently in the women's bobsled lead with a two-heat total of 1:56.47 after sliding the fastest runs of the morning, 58.06 and 58.41 seconds. Schaaf traded her skeleton sled for the D-rings of a bobsled in 2006, and has medaled in every America's Cup competition this season.

"National team trials didn't go the way I planned, and National Championships gives me another chance to qualify for the World Championship team," said Schaaf.  "I was pretty nervous this morning.  I've logged 16 races this season before Christmas, and I was definitely the most anxious today because this race mattered the most to me.  I felt consistent today, and it was fantastic spending the last month training here."

Schaaf and World Cup push athlete Emily Azevedo (Chico, Calif.) had the fastest start times of the competition, a 5.78 and 5.80, to lead from top to finish.

"Bree and I haven't had much practice together, and we're looking forward to getting faster tomorrow," said Azevedo.  "There's never a day when I race or push that I'm not nervous.  I get nervous every time, but I'm also really excited.  Bree did an awesome job today, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

Phoebe Burns (Lake Placid, N.Y.) and Jamie Gruebel (Newtown, Pa.) are sitting in second with a combined time of 1:57.84 after sliding runs of 58.79 and 59.05.  Jamia Jackson (Lake City, Fla.) and Jazmine Fenlator (Wayne, N.J.) will enter tomorrow's final heats in third position with a two-run total of 1:58.18 (59.15, 59.03). 

John Napier (Lake Placid, N.Y.) has the two-man bobsled lead by one-tenth of a second with a combined time of 1:53.55.  Napier began driving bobsleds when he was only eight years old in the Junior Bobsled Program on the old 1980 Olympic track in Lake Placid, and quickly rose in national rank before making his World Cup debut in 2005. 

"It's awesome to see Napier doing so well, because he helped me out the first year I came out for this charity four years ago," said NASCAR driver Boris Said, the five-time Bodine Bobsled Champion."On New Year's, my wife and I were talking about the things I've learned and have had the opportunity to do in my life because of racing.  I look back and think about all of the people I've been able to meet, like these Olympians, and I don't have much left in my bucket list of things I want to do."

Napier had an eventful trip to the track this morning after losing control of his truck on the slick roads, flipping his truck into a ditch. 

"My ride to the track today was a little exciting, but nothing bad happened," said Napier.  "I'm just glad to be safe today.  There are two more heats to go tomorrow, and hopefully I can extend my lead.  I feel relaxed, and it feels good to be on my home track.  It's like getting out of bed in the morning and swinging your feet to the left because you know the floor is there.  I'm comfortable here, and it's home."

Napier and push athlete Cory Butner (Yucaipa, Calif.) pushed times of 5.35 and 5.36 for runs of 56.75 and 56.80, respectively. 

"I was worried when I heard he was in an accident, but he called me to tell me he was OK," said Butner.  "We're getting back into the second half, and we'll pick it up tomorrow at the start.  There's a lot less pressure now, but it's not over yet."

In second is Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah), who is currently ranked third in combined World Cup points.  Holcomb's sled is still en route from Europe after the first half of the World Cup tour, and team USA I borrowed equipment this week.

"It's tough not having your own equipment," said Holcomb.  "The runners I'm borrowing are nicknamed 'warms,' and they aren't intended for cold ice.  On a day like today, where temperatures are flirting with the negative numbers, it's hard to keep the sled straight."

Holcomb and Curt Tomasevicz (Shelby, Neb.) pushed the fastest start times of the competition, a 5.25 and 5.31, for runs of0 56.86 and 56.79, respectively. 

"It would have been nice to have had my own helmet and sled, but it's another day of racing," said Holcomb.  "I can't take anything away from these guys, because they're sliding well.  I'm top three in the world, and these guys are right there with me today, which is a testament to the strength of the U.S. program."

Sitting in third is 2002 Olympic bronze medalist Mike Kohn (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) and teammate Jacob Miller (Waterford, Va.) with a two-run total of 1:53.66 after sliding runs of 56.91 and 56.75. 

U.S National Champions will be named tomorrow after the final two heats, and the 4th Annual Whelen Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge will kick off with two competitions; a two heat race, and a head-to-head battle between NASCAR and NHRA drivers.  

SPEED channel will televise four hours of U.S National Championships and the Whelen Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge on Jan. 18 at noon, and Jan. 25 at 2 pm. MRN Radio will provide live coverage of the Bodine Bobsled Challenge all three days.

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

Results:

Women's Bobsled

1. Bree Schaaf and Emily Azevedo 1:56.47 (58.06, 58.41); 2. Phoebe Burns and Jamie Gruebel 1:57.84 (58.79, 59.05); 3. Jamia Jackson and Jazmine Fenlator 1:58.18 (59.15, 59.03);


Men's Two-man Bobsled

1. John Napier and Cory Butner 1:53.55 (56.75, 56.80); 2. Steven Holcomb and Curt Tomasevicz 1:53.65 (56.86, 56.78); 3. Mike Kohn and Jacob Miller 1:53.66 (56.91, 56.75); 4. Grayson Fertig and Jim Carriel 1:54.95 (57.55, 57.40); 5. Michael Bradley and Avian Jordan 1:55.67 (57.67, 58.00); 6. Ethan Albrecht-Carrie and Jason Halliburton 1:56.61 (58.27, 58.34);

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 sp
orts 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, KBC Helmets, Luminox Watch Company, ULU Boots and Ferris Mfg. Corp. 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, EXA, Lumber Liquidators, Lincoln Electronics and Racing Electronics. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at http://bobsled.teamusa.org.

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