Contact: Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager
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Snowfall hinders Igls Europa Cup
IGLS, Austria (Jan. 8, 2012)- Consistently heavy snowfall disrupted the Igls, Austria Europa Cup event this weekend. Two skeleton races were scheduled for Jan. 7th and 8th, but the jury decided to cancel today’s competition mid race due to worsening conditions. As a result, each run in yesterday’s race will count as a separate competition.
The U.S. team fielded a full roster of two women and two men, and three of the team members were competing in their first European competition. Inclement weather throughout the week allowed for only a handful of training runs leading up to the competition, but U.S. coach Brian McDonald helped maintain a positive atmosphere for the young team.
"It was a great feeling as a coach to see this group of athletes so eager to compete here in Igls,” McDonald said. “Unfortunately, Mother Nature did not cooperate with training here and our time to learn this track and dial it in for the race was greatly hampered by constant snowfall. But, dealing with adverse weather conditions is a learning experience for all of these Europa Cup athletes and they now know to be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at us. I’m sure this experience will pay dividends in Winterberg.”
The team is looking ahead to the next Europa Cup race in Winterberg, Germany from Jan. 14-15, and all competitors in the sliding sports are hoping for better weather conditions across Europe as the World Cup team also moves on to Koenigssee, Germany.
Mike Dellemann (Oregon, Wisc.) posted the best results for the U.S. team, finishing eighth in both races against a field of 39 men. Dellemann has already secured three medals on the America’s Cup circuit this season, and was eager to transfer his skills to the European tour.
“Because of the weather we really only got three good training runs, instead of the usual six, which made the races a little more nerve racking than usual,” Dellemann said. “Luckily I was off early in the order which made for a slightly better track, but I tried something new on my push and ended up stumbling a little.”
Dellemann’s runs of 54.98 and 58.20 seconds were good enough for eighth position against a competitive field of experienced sliders.
“The second run was rushed because of the weather and it was difficult to make it down quickly with all the snow,” Dellemann said. “It was tough dealing with the snow and cancelling of training runs, because we weren't prepared as much as we hoped. Brian did a great job for us with what was available.”
Brad Stewart (Hastings, Minn.) finished the first half of the season with a bronze medal performance in the Koenigssee, Germany Europa Cup event, and he was hoping to kick off the New Year on the podium again. The weather snarled his plans, and Stewart finished 13 in both races after clocking runs of 55.44 seconds and 58.92 seconds.
“I struggled with consistency in the constantly changing conditions,” Stewart said. “At one point during the races it was snowing, then five minutes later it was raining, then followed by some more snow for good measure. I was 12th off, and as the snow piled up I knew I was in a tough spot that kept getting worse. I'll put the results behind me and look forward to moving onto Winterberg next week.”
The varying conditions resulted in different medalists in the one-heat contests. David Lingmann from Germany was victorious the first race with a time of 54.18 seconds. Canadians Dave Greszczyszyn and Paul Fraser claimed silver and bronze, respectively, with runs of 54.30 and 54.53 seconds.
British athlete Ed Smith was the winner in the second race after clocking a time of 57.14 seconds. Fraser was the only competitor to medal both days, capturing silver in the second run after posting a time of 57.56 seconds. David Swift from Great Britain slid to the finish in 57.61 seconds for third. Although neither U.S. competitor medaled, McDonald saw promise in the young team.
"Mike Delleman proved he will be a force to be reckoned with in the future with the fastest push start of the second race,” McDonald said. “He held onto a top three finish up until curve nine, which caused him some issues. Once his driving skills match his incredible push starts he will be seen on the podium for many years.”
The U.S. women also struggled with the conditions and did their best to learn the Austrian course in the few runs the weather allowed. Megan Henry (Roxbury, Conn.) was the top U.S. women’s finisher in both runs, and she made sure she enjoyed her first experience sliding in Europe despite her disappointment with her results.
“We were all excited to compete in Europe,” Henry said. “As soon as we got there, we did a track walk and I just looked at the scenery and said to myself, ‘Man, I am lucky!’ Brian prepared us and also made sure to keep us positive. It was definitely a learning experience, to be able to still perform to your best without even knowing what to expect at the track.”
Henry struggled in the first race and finished 13th after crossing the finish in 56.83 seconds. The rookie athlete clocked a second run of 59.28 seconds to improve her performance with a ninth place finish in a massive field of 37 competitors.
“I just tried to keep in mind what my late grandfather would say, which is ‘Maintain a positive mental attitude no matter what the circumstances,’” Henry said. “Despite weather conditions, the competition was still fun and it was a privilege and wonderful opportunity to come race here, I'm really looking forward to seeing how our group can perform in Winterberg.”
Henry’s teammate Meghan Sullivan (Bluemont, Va.) has been on a trajectory of success this season, but a mistake at the start cost Sullivan a top 20 finish in the first race.
“I was disappointed in my results in both races,” Sullivan said. “Popping the grove on my first run really hurt my finish time and the weather got progressively worse throughout the day. However, I learned a great deal during the races in Igls that will help me to become a more prepared and improved slider.”
Sullivan could only muster a finish of 58.71 seconds for 27th position. The emerging athlete bettered her second run and finished 14th with a time of 59.93 seconds.
“The weather caused an unfortunate race scenario, but as we have seen recently on the world cup circuit, it happens,” Sullivan said. “I still need to be able to slide well in less than ideal conditions. I plan on using the disappointment of my results to provoke a better performance in Winterberg. I am very happy that I will have another chance to compete on this track again for Junior World Championships before the season is over.”
The Junior World Championships will take place from Jan. 22-29 in Igls. Juniors are athletes who have not yet reached the age of 23 years on the date of the race and who have competed in a minimum of three races on two different tracks in the previous 24 months.
"Meghan will be back here for Junior World Championships, so even with tough conditions and popping a groove during her first heat yesterday, the experience here on this track will go a long way in helping her compete with the top sliders during juniors,” McDonald said. “I’m really excited to see her come back here and put it all together. I have no doubt that she will rise to the occasion.”
Results were inconsistent in the women’s races. Rose McGrandle from Great Britain posted a time of 55.84 seconds to lead the first competition. Sophia Gribel from Germany was second with a run of 55.98 seconds, while Cassie Hawrysh was third after clocking 56.04 seconds.
Kim Meylemans from Germany was the lucky winner of the second race. Meylemans’ run of 58.27 seconds put her ahead of British athletes Elizabeth Yarnold and Laura Deas, who claimed silver and bronze with runs of 58.55 and 58.68 seconds, respectively.
Athletes will travel to Winterberg for the final skeleton Europa Cup event of the season. 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. David Lingmann (GER) 54.18; 2. Dave Greszczyszyn (CAN) 54.30; 3. Paul Fraser (CAN) 54.53;…8. Mike Dellemann (USA) 54.98;…13. Brad Stewart (USA) 55.44;
Men’s Skeleton Race #2
1. Ed Smith (GBR) 57.14; 2. Paul Fraser (CAN) 57.56; 3. David Swift (GBR) 57.61;…8. Mike Dellemann (USA) 58.20;…13. Brad Stewart (USA) 58.92;
Women’s Skeleton Race #1
1. Rose McGrandle (GBR) 55.84; 2. Sophia Griebel (GER) 55.98; 3. Cassie Hawrysh (CAN) 56.04;…13. Megan Henry (USA) 56.83;…27. Meghan Sullivan (USA) 58.71;
Women’s Skeleton Race #2
1. Kim Meylemans (GER) 58.27; 2. Elizabeth Yarnold (GBR) 58.55; 3. Laura Deas (GBR) 58.68;…9. Megan Henry (USA) 59.28;…14. Meghan Sullivan (USA) 59.93;
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