Uhlaender finishes ninth at World Championships

Feb. 26, 2011, 12:21 p.m. (ET)

Contact: Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager
(518) 354-2250, abird@usbsf.com

Uhlaender finishes ninth at World Championships

KÖNIGSSEE, Germany (Feb. 26, 2011)-Katie Uhlaender’s (Breckenridge, Colo.) season ended just six weeks after it began.  The two-time Olympian had arthroscopic surgery to repair a hip labral tear this fall, but the tenacious athlete quickly returned to elite competition to battle the best in the world for the title.  Uhlaender capped her season with a ninth place finish at the women’s skeleton World Championships in Germany today.

“I’m disappointed,” Uhlaender said. “I made some mistakes today and I know there’s a lot of work to do between now and next season.  I don’t really know what to expect, but I’m going to keep working at it.  I’m here and able to run, but I need to continue my rehabilitation program to get stronger and faster.”

Uhlaender clocked runs of 52.58 and 52.82 seconds in today’s final heats to move up one position into ninth with a four-run combined time of 3 minutes, 31.51 seconds.  The women’s field of push times varied from 4.98 to 5.50 seconds today, and Uhlaender was in the mix with the top sliders after posting identical starts of 5.12 seconds.

“I'm blessed to have the support of such a great team, and to have my strength coaches stick by me despite my setbacks,” Uhlaender said.  “Stu McMillan and Dan Pfaff have given me hope that my fitness will be back to an elite level before I know it.  It’s been a long time; I can't remember there being a summer without surgery.  It will be a relief to move forward with momentum.”

Marion Thees brought the championship title back to Germany after posting a cumulative time of 3:28.51 to claim gold.  Thees claimed her second career world title by 0.88 seconds over German teammate Anja Huber, who clocked a total of 3:29.39.  Canadian Mellisa Hollingsworth finished third with a combined time of 3:29.74 to secure her first World Championship medal in 11 years.

U.S. competitor Kimber Gabryszak (Park City, Utah) is at a loss for words.  Not only did she compete on the World Cup circuit and make her World Championship debut, but her longtime boyfriend and fellow skeleton teammate Brad Stewart surprised her with a ring on Wednesday.

“We had planned on him coming to worlds, but he definitely surprised me with the ring,” Gabryszak said.  “It’s something we’ve talked about for awhile, and I am so excited to be engaged to someone that has been my best friend for so long.”

Stewart helped Gabryszak celebrate her most successful season yet, and the couple will return to Lake Placid, N.Y. tomorrow to begin training for U.S. National Championships, which will be held next weekend.

“After next week we’ll have some time to unwind and celebrate with our friends and family,” Gabryszak said.  “I’m honestly speechless though.  I don’t know what to say, this has just been such a wonderful year.”

Gabryszak wrapped up the international season in 16th place after sliding a four-run total of 3:34.17.  The emerging pilot put together runs of 53.10 and 53.49 seconds to move up five spots.

“This has been such a great experience,” Gabryszak said.  “My first run today was great, but my second run left something to be desired.  It’s my first worlds, and I can’t really ask for more.  I learned a lot this season and hope to keep it going.”

Fellow American Annie O’Shea (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.) pushed a start time of 5.05 seconds to put her in position to move up from yesterday’s standing, but a mistake in the 360-degree Kreisel corner cost the 23-year-old time. O’Shea just missed qualifying for a final heat after sliding into 23rd with a three-run total of 2:41.41.

World Championship action wraps up tomorrow with the men’s four-man bobsled finale at 12:30 pm CET. Watch the bobsled and skeleton World Championship events on Universal Sports from Feb. 28 through March 5 at 9 pm EST each evening.

For media inquiries, please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager, at abird@usbsf.com, or at (518) 354-2250.  Follow the team on the USBSF Twitter page at http://twitter.com/USBSF, or on the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation Facebook group page.  Watch athlete interviews and check out the action on the abirdbobsled YouTube channel.

1. Marion Thees (GER) 3:28.51 (52.22, 52.21, 52.07, 52.01); 2. Anja Huber (GER) 3:29.39 (52.44, 52.14, 52.35, 52.46); 3. Mellisa Hollingsworth (CAN)  3:29.74 (52.64, 52.34, 52.46, 52.30);…9. Katie Uhlaender (USA) 3:31.51 (53.36, 52.75, 52.58, 52.82);…16. Kimber Gabryszak (USA) 3:34.17 (53.80, 53.78, 53.10, 53.49);…23. Annie O’Shea (USA) 2:41.41 (53.65, 53.89, 53.87, DNS)

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: BMW Group, Under Armour, Vilter Manufacturing, Kampgrounds of America, KBC Helmets, Graph-Tex, EDAS/Ripxx, Alamo Rent A Car, Tesa Tape and Ferris Mfg. Corp. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at http://bobsled.teamusa.org.