Uhlaender crowned women’s skeleton World Champion

Feb. 24, 2012, 2:25 p.m. (ET)

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

Uhlaender crowned women’s skeleton World Champion

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (Feb. 24, 2012)–Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) was crowned the women’s skeleton World Champion at Mt. Van Hoevenberg today to continue to U.S. team’s medal streak.  The two-time Olympian and two-time World Cup champion is no stranger to the podium.  She claimed bronze in 2007, then silver in 2008, and she finally added World Championship gold to her sliding resume today.

“I can’t tell you that yet, I’m kind of in the middle of it,” Uhlaender said when asked about whether this was the biggest moment of her career. “My last thought on the line was to run like I was going into Olympic trials, because that’s where I’m headed next.”

Uhlaender achieved her first goal of the year, which was to win World Championships.  Next up are weightlifting Olympic trials in Columbus, Ohio, where she hopes to bid for a spot on the 2012 Summer Olympic Games team.

Uhlaender was first off the block today as the leader of yesterday’s first two heats.  She clapped her hands together to get spectators cheering before embarking on her third run of the competition.  The veteran maintained a lead of 0.17 seconds after clocking a run of 55.62 seconds.  Uhlaender kept her distance from the field in a nearly perfect final run to win the 2012 World Championship title with a combined time of 3:42.33. 

Uhlaender’s mom, Karen Uhlaender, was at the finish to proudly congratulate her daughter.  The pair embraced and Uhlaender broke into tears before reaching into her bag to pull out a baseball card of her late father, Ted Uhlaender.  She said she felt like he was with her today and reached up to touch his World Series ring, which dangles from her neck on a chain.  After several congratulatory hugs and high-fives, Uhlaender took a deep breath and regained her composure before speaking with the media. 

“I was freaking out last night,” said Uhlaender, who had the evening to contemplate her lead.  “I just felt like my runs were so good, and I didn’t know how I could get more time.  [Steven] Holcomb was basically my rock and the coaching staff has been amazing.  Holcomb told me to just stay calm and do what I had to do on the track.  He just gave me confidence in what I was doing.  I did not do this alone today.”

Holcomb and Uhlaender were on the same squad in the team event, which claimed gold last Sunday.  Earlier that day, Holcomb and Steven Langton made history as the first U.S. pilot to ever win a two-man bobsled title, while Elana Meyers and Katie Eberling earned bronze in the women’s bobsled event to set the pace for the World Championships last Saturday.  Uhlaender’s victory is the fourth medal for the U.S. team in these championships.

Canadian Mellisa Hollingsworth finished second with a total time of 3:42.50, while Junior World Champion Elizabeth Yarnold from Great Britain shocked the field with a bronze medal performance.  Yarnold slid a four-run total of 3:42.69 to inch past her teammate Shelley Rudman.

Annie O’Shea (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.) had a successful finish to her World Championships by moving up into 10th place with a combined time of 3:44.60.  The emerging athlete once again had ballistic pushes of 5.29 and 5.31 seconds to close in on the start record.

“I still had a problem in my first run,” O’Shea said.  “I was excited because my bottom was so good, but again that mistake cost me a lot at the top.  My last run was so awesome, and I couldn’t ask for anything else.” 

O’Shea made her World Championship debut last season in Koenigssee, Germany, where she finished 23rd.  The young athlete was disappointed to not be in the chase for the medals, but she was happy with a top 10 finish.

“I think I put so much pressure on myself because we were competing on a home track,” O’Shea said.  “I really stressed out.  This is only my second big race, so I’m still happy with how I did and hope to get more consistent season.”

Competition resumes at 5 pm tonight with the first two heats of the men’s skeleton event.  For media inquiries, please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager, at abird@usbsf.com, or at (518) 354-2250. 

1. Katie Uhlaender (USA) 3:42.33 (55,54, 55.49, 55.62, 55.68); 2. Mellisa Hollingsworth (CAN) 3:42.50 (55.64, 55.57, 55.61, 55.68); 3. Elizabeth Yarnold (GBR) 3:42.69 (55.95, 55.76, 55.40, 55.58);…10. Annie O’Shea (USA) 3:44.60 (56.20, 56.13, 56.21, 56.06);

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: BMW of North America, Under Armour, United States National Guard, Kampgrounds of America, National Strength and Conditioning Association, Vivat!, Global Forwarding, KBC Helmets, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, EDAS/Ripxx, UberSense, Tesa Tape and Ferris Mfg. Corp. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at http://bobsled.teamusa.org.