USA Bobsled and Skeleton

Jan 04 Schaaf and Napier Named U.S. Bobsled National Champions

Jan. 04, 2009, 4:31 p.m. (ET)

Contact: Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager

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

For Immediate Release

January 4, 2008

Schaaf and Napier Named U.S. Bobsled National Champions

Lake Placid, N.Y.- Bree Schaaf (Bremerton, Wash.) and John Napier (Lake Placid, N.Y.) qualified for the 2009 World Championship team after claiming the U.S. Bobsled National Championship titles today in Lake Placid, N.Y.  The 2009 World Championships will be held in Lake Placid from February 20-March 1. 

To view photos of your U.S. Bobsled National Champions taken by photographer Todd Bissonette, please visit http://www.tinyurl.com/usbob1.  

Schaaf won the women's bobsled title by over two seconds with push athlete Emily Azevedo (Chico, Calif.), and Napier led the men's two-man field with teammate Cory Butner (Yucaipa, Calif.) on his home track at the Olympic Sports Complex.

"It was a brisk morning, with temperatures in the negatives," said Napier.  "The Olympic Regional Development Authority and track manager Tony Carlino did an awesome job overnight preparing the ice for national championships."

The U.S. Bobsled National Championships consisted of four heats held over two days, with the lowest combined time determining the winner.  Schaaf convincingly claimed the women's bobsled title with a lead of 2.73 seconds, fastest in all four heats.

"I felt utter relief crossing the finish in the last run," said Schaaf. "I was more nervous today than I was yesterday, and didn't sleep at all last night.  When it's a timed total over four runs, it adds a different element to the game because there's no room for error."

Schaaf and Azevedo pushed start times of 5.87 and 5.85 for runs of 57.74 and 57.77, respectively, today.  The duo was named national champion after crossing the finish with a four-run combined time of 3:51.98. 

"It's a great feeling to have the steering connected to my hands now, not to mention that I'm sitting in a recliner," said Schaaf, a skeleton World Cup athlete that traded in her sled for the D-rings of a bobsled in 2007.  "I think my experience sliding at the elite level in skeleton will carry over.  I won't be less nervous, but I think I'll be more prepared.  I want to be in the mix, and to be near the top girls in World Championships."

Phoebe Burns (Lake Placid, N.Y.) teamed with Jamie Gruebel (Newtown, Pa.) for the silver medal with a total time of 3:54.71 after sliding runs of 58.45 and 58.42 today.  Burns and Gruebel combined forces to push start times of 5.92 and 5.97. 

Jamia Jackson (Lake City, Fla.) finished third after sliding runs of 58.46 and 58.45 for a combined time of 3:55.09. Jazmine Fenlator (Wayne, N.J.) teamed with Jackson yesterday, but opted out of pushing today due to a back strain.  Ingrid Marcum (Elmhurst, Ill.) stepped up and helped push Jackson to the fastest start time of the day, 5.85 seconds. 

Drivers Shauna Rohbock (Park City, Utah) and Erin Pac (Farmington, Conn.) are in Europe preparing for the second half of the 2008-09 World Cup season, and have already qualified for the 2009 World Championship team. 

In the men's two-man competition, Napier crossed the finish 0.30 seconds ahead of the field to claim the title and a World Championship spot with a four-heat total of 3:45.87. 

"I was racing against a fierce field of competitors," said Napier.  "I only had a tenth of a second lead yesterday, and anything can happen in this sport.  I don't take anything for granted, and I knew I had to put down my best runs today to stay in the lead.  I feel content, and I'm really happy about today's result."

Napier and push athlete Butner pushed start times of 5.34 and 5.37 for runs of 56.01 and 56.31, respectively. 

"To be within five-hundredths of some of the top teams is great," said Butner.  "I think we can be faster, but I'm happy with how we pushed today."

Mike Kohn (Myrtle Beach, S.C.), a Sergeant in the Virginia Army National Guard and a member of the National Guard Outstanding Athlete Program, finished second with a total time of 3:46.17.  Jacob Miller (Waterford, Va.) pushed with Kohn in yesterday's first two heats, and teamed with Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) today.  Kohn and Cunningham pushed the fastest start times of the day, a 5.28 and 5.31, for runs of 56.21 and 56.30. 

In third was the team of Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) and Curt Tomasevicz (Shelby, Neb.) with a combined time of 3:46.57.  Holcomb has already qualified for the World Championship team and is currently ranked third in overall World Cup points. 

Todd Hays (Del Rio, Texas) is also in Europe preparing for the second half of the World Cup season, and will join Holcomb and Napier at the World Championships this February. 

U.S. Bobsled National Championships were held in conjunction with the 4th Annual Whelen Bodine Bobsled Challenge this weekend. Daytona 500 winner Geoff Bodine created the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, Inc., in 1992 to build American-made sleds for U.S. athletes.  U.S. pilot Holcomb will test new sled designs created by designer Bob Cuneo from Chassis Dynamics over the next several weeks leading up to the World Championships.

"I'll never be an athlete or win an award, but my reward is watching these athletes go after their opportunity for the Olympics," said Cuneo.  "We couldn't have accomplished what we have without our racing friends.  They bring technology to the table, and they introduce us to people they work with that volunteer to help us."

The Bodine Bobsled Challenge is an event where NASCAR and NHRA drivers steer modified bobsleds from a lower start on the track as a fundraiser for the Bodyn Bobsled Project.  Todd Bodine, the 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Champion and brother of Bodine Challenge founder Geoff Bodine, claimed gold in the first competition. 

"We're racers and competitors, so we all come out here and want to win," said Bodine.  "But we're also here for a great purpose, which is to support the Bodyn Bobsled Project and to help our U.S. athletes get into American-made sleds."

The New York National Guard served in a different position this weekend, jumping into the back of the sleds as push athletes for the NASCAR and NHRA drivers.  Bodine teamed with Patrick Furman from the B co2/108 Infantry in Plattsburgh, N.Y. for the gold with a two-run total of 1:39.18 (49.83, 49.35). 

Joey Lagano, a NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie driving sensation who clinched the 2007 Camping World East championship, claimed silver in his second Bodine Bobsled Challenge event with a combined time of 1:39.58 (50.02, 49.56).  In third was Larry Gunselman, a former NASCAR Sprint Cup series driver, with a two-run total of 1:39.60 (50.27, 49.33).

NASCAR and NHRA drivers will battle it out head-to-head this afternoon on the bobsled track in a three round elimination.  For full results, please visit http://bodynbobsled.com/

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.

For more information about the BoDyn Bobsled Project and the 4th Annual Whelen Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge, please visit http://bodynbobsled.com/. For additional information about the U.S. bobsled team, 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 3:51.98 (58.06, 58.41, 57.74, 57.77); 2. Phoebe Burns and Jamie Gruebel 3:54.71 (58.79, 59.05, 58.45, 58.42)); 3. Jamia Jackson and Jazmine Fenlator/Ingrid Marcum 3:55.09 (59.15, 59.03, 58.46, 58.45);

Men's Two-man Bobsled

1. John Napier and Cory Butner 3:45.87 (56.75, 56.80, 56.01, 56.31); 2. Mike Kohn and Jacob Miller/Nick Cunningham 3:46.17 (56.91, 56.75, 56.21, 56.30); 3. Steven Holcomb and Curt Tomasevicz 3:46.57 (56.86, 56.78, 56.40, 56.52); 3. 4. Grayson Fertig and Jim Carriel 3:48.41 (57.55, 57.40, 56.63, 56.83); 5. Michael Bradley and Avian Jordan 3:50.44 (57.67, 58.00, 57.40, 57.37); 6. Ethan Albrecht-Carrie and Jason Halliburton 3:52.74 (58.27, 58.34, 58.07, 58.06);

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, 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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