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Daly and Uhlaender lead U.S. team with Intercontinental Cup medal finishes
CALGARY, Canada (Feb. 5, 2012)–After a series of races overseas, the skeleton Intercontinental Cup tour resumed in North America on the 1988 Olympic track in Calgary on Thursday and Friday. World Cup veterans John Daly (Smithtown, N.Y.) and Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) elected to forego their entry in the Whistler World Cup event to gain extra points in the two-race Calgary Intercontinental Cup. Daly regained his confidence by claiming gold and silver medals, while Uhlaender finished third and sixth.
“I’m extremely proud of the team this week,” said Brian McDonald, U.S. coach. “Having John and Katie’s veteran leadership with us on the Intercontinental Cup really pushed everyone to do their best. Hearing our national anthem for the first time this season was a sweet ending to a great week of racing, and it was a great moment for all of us. We are hoping it is a prelude to hearing it again soon at World Championships.”
Daly held a monumental lead of nearly half a second in Thursday’s first race run. The 2010 Olympian led from start to finish by posting identical starts of 4.95 seconds for runs of 56.33 and 56.63 seconds. A small mistake in the second heat allowed Germany’s Michi Halilovic to get closer to Daly, but the veteran U.S. slider maintained a lead of 0.38 seconds for the win with a combined time of 1:52.96.
The roles were reversed on Friday night, but Daly only trailed Halilovic by 0.01 seconds after sliding a first run of 56.35 seconds. The veteran World Cup sliders battle it out for gold, and Halilovic was triumphant after posting a total time of 1:52.92 to lead by 0.38 seconds over Daly.
“I feel really good,” Daly said. “I had a bad string of luck this season, and I started to doubt myself and question if I should even be on the World Cup circuit. These guys are really competitive, so winning definitely brings my confidence back.”
Daly’s disqualification in the first World Cup race of the season for not wearing his start bib was the catalyst for a series of unfortunate races. In an effort to secure additional points, Daly traded races with Intercontinental Cup competitor Greg West this week.
“Greg was such a team player by giving up this race for me,” Daly said. “He saw a teammate in need and helped me big time, so my hat’s off to him. I knew I just had to cross the line four times and I would be in a better position moving forward. I also have to thank our head coach Tuffy Latour for allowing me this opportunity to make up some points.”
British athlete Ed Smith secured bronze in both races with combined times of 1:53.54 and 1:53.47.
Tom Santagato (Astoria, N.Y.) had another strong showing this season with two ninth place finishes. Santagato slid a two-run total of 1:55.20 in Thursday’s race, and 1:55.38 in last night’s contest.
“I was really looking forward to racing on this track, because I’ve been successful here before,” said Santagato, who earned bronze in Calgary’s America’s Cup race last season. “I really couldn’t have asked for a better week of training. I got faster every day, including race day. I feel like I might have squandered a couple of opportunities to move up a few spots, but I really can’t complain about two top-ten finishes.”
Despite a small injury, Luke Schulz (Davenport, N.D.) opted to compete in Thursday’s race and finished 14th with a combined time of 1:56.14. Schulz did not compete on Friday.
“Luke had some health issues that kept him from the top performances that he expects from himself,” McDonald said. “He took the second race off to play it safe. We are hoping he heals up in time to rebound for next week’s round of races.”
In the women’s races, Uhlaender led the U.S. with a bronze medal finish on Thursday and a sixth place finish on Friday. The two-time Olympian posted a combined time of 1:56.18 for the bronze medal, finishing just behind defending Olympic champion Amy Williams and emerging British athlete Rose McGrandle.
Uhlaender was on track for medaling in the second race, but a costly mistake in the second race bumped her into sixth position with a total time of 1:56.62. McGrandle took the victory with an aggregate time of 1:55.97, while Germany’s Sohpia Greibel was second and Williams earned bronze.
Uhlaender elected to compete in Calgary’s Intercontinental Cup races to gain points she missed earlier this season. The two-time World Cup champion is a dual athlete, competing in both skeleton and weightlifting, and didn’t join the team until the second World Cup race of the year while pursuing her weightlifting endeavors.
“I feel like coming to Calgary was a good move,” Uhlaender said. “I’m training really hard to prepare for the skeleton World Championships and weightlifting Olympic trials. Balancing two sports is not easy. It was the best option for me to come to Calgary so that I could work on my push, keep up my lifting, and still gain points.”
Not only did Uhlaender post two top-six finishes, but she also matched some personal records in her weightlifting training. Uhlaender said Calgary offers some of the best training facilities, and the support she receives from friends in the area contributed to her success.
“I know the races could have gone better, but I did the best I could with the workload I have,” Uhlaender said. “I could not be more grateful for the support I have in chasing my dreams. Thank you to everyone that is helping me.”
Savannah Graybill (Denver, Pa.) is competing in only her first season in the sport and continues to show improvement. Graybill finished 14th and 13th with combined times of 1:58.34 and 1:57.78, respectively.
“Overall I’m pleased with my finishes,” Graybill said. “I steadily improved over the course of the week and have a much better feel for the track than when I was here in November. Brian did a great job preparing us for the week with plenty of video and encouragement, leading us to be successful.”
The Intercontinental Cup circuit will conclude on home soil this week in Park City, Utah. For media inquiries, please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager, at email@example.com, or at (518) 354-2250.
Men’s Skeleton Race #1:
1. John Daly (USA) 1:52.96 (56.33, 56.63); 2. Michi Halilovic (GER) 1:53.34 (56.80, 56.54); 3. Ed Smith (GBR) 1:53.54 (56.94, 56.60);…9. Tom Santagato (USA) 1:55.20 (57.45, 57.75);…14. Luke Schulz (USA) 1:56.14 (58.16, 57.98);
Men’s Skeleton Race #2:
1. Michi Halilovic (GER) 1:52.92 (56.34, 56.58); 2. John Daly (USA) 1:53.30 (56.35, 56.95); 3. Ed Smith (GBR) 1:53.47 (56.58, 56.89);…9. Tom Santagato (USA) 1:55.38 (57.71, 57.67);…Luke Schulz (DNS);
Women’s Skeleton Race #1:
1. Amy Williams (GBR) 1:55.60 (57.77, 57.83); 2. Rose McGrandle (GBR) 1:56.11 (57.97, 58.14); 3. Katie Uhlaender (USA)1:56.18 (58.07, 58.11);…14. Savannah Graybill (USA) 1:58.34 (58.97, 59.37);
Women’s Skeleton Race #2:
1. Rose McGrandle (GBR) 1:55.97 (57.67, 58.30); 2. Sophia Griebel (GER) 1:56.26 (58.01, 58.25); 3. Amy Williams (GBR) 1:56.32 (58.20, 58.12);…6. Katie Uhlaender (USA) 1:56.62 (57.76, 58.86);…13. Savannah Graybill (USA) 1:57.78 (58.84, 58.94);
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.