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O’Shea and Uhlaender finish 2-3 in women’s skeleton World Cup
LA PLAGNE, France (Dec. 10, 2011)-Annie O’Shea (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.) and Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) finished 2-3 in the La Plagne women’s skeleton World Cup race to complete a North American sweep of the medals. Not only did O’Shea earn her first World Cup medal today, but she also broke the start record en route to her silver medal performance.
“This is pretty much amazing,” O’Shea said. “I’m really excited, I don’t even know what to say right now. I can’t believe this.”
The 24-year-old is competing in only her second full World Cup season, and her best finish before today was seventh in last week’s Igls, Austria race.
“I never thought I would excel at a technical track like this, but I think it’s beneficial that I’m here for the first time,” O’Shea said. “I just let it happen. I didn’t over think anything and just let the sled go. Needless to say, this is now my favorite track on circuit.”
O’Shea has focused on putting together two consistent runs over the last two seasons and felt like today was the first time everything came together. O’Shea pushed within one-hundredth of a second from the start record in the first heat before threading her way to the finish in 1:03.27 for second position.
O’Shea looked like a veteran on the starting line as she prepared for her final run. She added another start record to her resume after bursting off the block in 6.35 seconds. O’Shea maneuvered her way to the finish in 1:03.19, and her aggregate total of 2:06.46 guaranteed her the silver medal.
“I feel like I’ve been moving in the right direction,” O’Shea said. “The coaching staff is so great, and I just wish Lenny was here.”
Lenny Kasten, the U.S. national team general manager, was rushed to the hospital with high blood pressure last night. Kasten spent the night in the hospital and the team is hopeful for his quick return to the track.
“Last week Lenny was so excited for me because I was slowly moving up,” O’Shea said. “He always believes in us, so I really miss him and I think Katie and I slid with him in mind today.”
One of the team’s favorite Kasten quotes is, “Keep hope alive,” which Uhlaender had written on her sled today.
“This one is for you, Lenny,” Uhlaender said.
The two-time World Cup champion missed the first event while competing in the weightlifting American Open and made a statement upon her return that she’s committed to sliding.
“I feel like I trained so hard, and weightlifting was good cross training for sliding,” Uhlaender said. “My goal is to always be in the top three. I feel like I’ve finally overcome the obstacles that have blocked me over the last few seasons and I’m excited to get even stronger throughout the year.”
Uhlaender’s start times have slowly improved since her series of knee and hip surgeries over the last two seasons. Uhlaender was in fifth position after a first run of 1:03.43, but the team veteran put pressure on the field after clocking a second run of 1:03.21. Uhlaender stood in the leader’s box and watched as her combined time of 2:06.64 surpassed two competitors to move her into third.
“I am so proud to see how we did as a team,” Uhlaender said. “I had so much support from everyone and it finally feels like we’re all working together. I think we’re only going to get better.”
Canadian veteran Mellisa Hollingsworth pieced together two flawless runs to lead the race by 0.37 seconds with a combined time of 2:06.09.
Kimber Gabryszak (Park City, Utah) didn’t immediately gel with the La Plagne track, although she improved throughout the week. Gabryszak finished 16th with a combined time of 2:08.85.
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1. Mesllisa Hollingsworth (CAN) 2:06.09 (1:03.00, 1:03.09); 2. Annie O’Shea (USA) 2:06.46 (1:03.27, 1:03.19); 3. Katie Uhlaender (USA) 2:06.64 (1:03.43, 1:03.21);…16. Kimber Gabryszak (USA) 2:08.85 (1:04.24, 1:04.61);
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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.