Graybill leads Intercontinental Cup team on 2010 Olympic track

Jan. 06, 2014, 10:07 p.m. (ET)

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

Graybill leads Intercontinental Cup team on 2010 Olympic track

WHISTLER, Canada (Jan. 6 2013)- Savannah Graybill (Denver, Pa.) braved the 2010 Olympic track in Whistler, Canada for the second time in her career to lead the U.S. Intercontinental Cup skeleton team with eighth place finishes in the two race series. The third-year slider posted the fourth fastest time of the field in the final run, showing her promise in the U.S. program.

“Savannah should leave here with a ton of confidence,” said U.S. skeleton coach Brian McDonald. “She showed that when she puts it all together she could be on the podium.”

Graybill clocked a two-run total of 1:49.64 for eighth place in yesterday’s race, and 1:49.80 for eighth again today. Still a rookie to the sport, Graybill battled against established World Cup veterans for her top-10 finishes.

“The past week and a half in Whistler has been great,” Graybill said. “We had beautiful weather and great ice conditions. I'm pleased with my results here. I'm feeling comfortable on my sled and I'm leaving with new personal bests and knowing that I have more in the tank on this track.”

German Katharina Heinz swept the women’s skeleton Whistler race series, victorious with combined times of 1:47.92 and 1:48.49. Jacqueline Loelling earned silver and bronze medals for Germany with totals of 1:49.08 and 1:48.97, respectively.  Cassie Hawrysh posted a two-run total of 1:48.77 to claim silver in today’s race for the host nation, while British athlete Donna Creighton earned bronze yesterday in 1:49.11.

There were several changes to the national team following several retirements and injuries before the holiday break, which allowed development sliders Veronica Day (Vienna, Va.) and Megan Henry (Roxbury, Conn.) an opportunity to race on the Intercontinental Cup circuit.

“This was a great learning experience for many of our North American Cup athletes who got the chance to race here in Whistler due to retirements and injuries recently,” McDonald said. “They were impressive coming here their first time and handling this track. This is a tough track to figure out your first time here but this team started reeling it in run after run.”

Henry returned to the sport after a one-year medical leave and is already back to full speed. She was among the top three athletes off the start block in all four runs, and challenged up-and-coming British athlete Laura Deas for the start record.

“I was really hoping to get the start record, but Laura Deas is a beast,” Henry said.

Henry, who took her first runs on Whistler just this week, finished 17 and 14 with total times of 1:52.49 and 1:51.69, respectively.

“Coming to Whistler was slightly nerve racking because of its reputation,” Henry said. “It was very challenging- I flipped during official training. But I am so grateful for the opportunity to come race here. It made it easier to have Veronica by my side! Brian was really understanding and encouraging, and the women all got personal bests on race day, which is all I can ask for at this track against such a deep field.”

Day, who also confronted the challenging course for the first time in her career this week, clocked two-run totals of 1:51.56 and 1:51.80 to finish 15th both days.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to race here in Whistler on the Intercontinental Cup,” Day said. “Whistler has a pretty gnarly reputation and Megan and I haven’t been here before. So with very few runs on arguably the hardest track in the world, I think we both held our own. All three of us made huge improvements throughout the week and we laid out some big personal bests on race day. This track is so unique and has a lot to teach us as sliders, so I am looking forward to coming back and racing here in the future.”

“We had a lot of changes in athletes for the second half and I have to particularly commend Megan and Veronica on their results here,” Graybill said. “Neither have been to Whistler before and they took this track in stride, despite its reputation and having limited runs.”

Allen Blackwell (Jackson, Miss.) posted combined times of 1:48.09 and 1:48.85 to lead the U.S. men’s team with 14th place finishes both days. Blackwell described the track as “fast and fun,” and was satisfied with clocking personal best times in the races.

Three different athletes medaled in each of the men’s races. Maurizio Oioli from Italy was victorious in the first race with a two-run total of 1:46.18, followed by German Alexander Gassner in second (1:46.21) and reigning Olympic champion from Canada Jon Montgomgery in third (1:46.27).  Sungbin Yun from Korea was today’s winner in 1:45.73.  Russians Anton Batuev and Alexander Mutovin were second and third with combined times of 1:46.27 and 1:46.40.

American Greg West (Orange Beach, Ala.) knocked two seconds off of his personal best times for top-20 finishes. West clocked a total time of 1:48.64 for 17th yesterday, and moved up two spots to finish 15th today with an aggregate time of 1:48.93.

“What a week,” West said. “This track is definitely one of the most technical in the world. I was pretty proud how the group came together in a few short days and dissected it. The track is so much fun and it served as a great reminder why I love sliding. I was having fun and it showed in my improvement. I appreciate the opportunity and can't wait to come back.”

Austin McCrary (Colleyville, Texas) just missed the top-20 cutoff for a second run after sliding the 22nd fastest time in the first race. He rebounded today with a 19th place finish (1:49.15).

The Intercontinental Cup tour concludes next week on home ice in Park City, Utah, and the Americans will be favorites to medal. Please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Director, at abird@usbsf.com or 518-354-2250 with media inquiries.

Results:

Women’s skeleton race #1

1. Katharina Heinz (GER) 1:47.92 (53.73, 54.19); 2. Jacqueline Loelling (GER) 1:49.08 (54.02, 55.06); 3. Donna Creighton (GBR) 1:49.11 (54.46, 54.65);…8. Savannah Graybill (USA) 1:49.64 (54.76, 54.88);…15. Veronica Day (USA) 1:51.56 (55.61, 55.95);…17. Megan Henry (USA) 1:52.49 (56.06, 56.43);

Women’s skeleton race #2

1. Katharina Heinz (GER) 1:48.49 (54.02, 54.47); 2. Cassie Hawrysh (CAN) 1:48.77 (54.05, 54.72); 3. Jacqueline Loelling (GER) 1:48.97 (54.51, 54.46);…8. Savannah Graybill (USA) 1:49.80 (55.16, 54.64);…14. Megan Henry (USA) 1:51.69 (55.62, 56.07);…15. Veronica Day (USA) 1:51.80 (56.10, 55.70);

Men’s skeleton race #1

1. Maurizio Oioli (ITA) 1:46.18 (53.06, 53.12); 2. Alexander Gassner (GER) 1:46.21 (53.13, 53.08); 3. Jon Montgomery (CAN) 1:46.27 (53.14, 53.13);…14. Allen Blackwell (USA) 1:48.09 (53.94, 54.15);…17. Greg West (USA) 1:48.64 (54.45, 54.19);…22. Austin McCrary (USA) (55.16, DNS);

Men’s skeleton race #2

1. SungbinYun (KOR) 1:45.73 (52.88, 52.85); 2. Anton Batuev (RUS) 1:46.27 (53.04, 53.23); 3. Alexander Mutovin (RUS) 1:46.40 (53.20, 53.20);…14. Allen Blackwell (USA) 1:48.85 (54.21, 54.64); 15. Greg West (USA) 1:48.93 (54.31, 54.62);…19. Austin McCrary (USA) 1:49.15 (54.74, 54.41);

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