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Skeleton Europa Cup wraps up in Winterberg
WINTERBERG, Germany (Jan. 15, 2012)-The skeleton Europa Cup tour wrapped up with double races in Winterberg, Germany this weekend. Despite not medaling this weekend, U.S. coach Brian McDonald was pleased with how the team performed, especially considering that three of the four athletes racing are only in their first competitive season.
“Sliding in Europe was a wonderful learning experience for this team,” McDonald said. “They had to learn new tracks with limited runs and less than ideal conditions. Our development program is going to reap huge benefits in the years to come. We’re fortunate to have this talented a class of up and coming athletes, and it’s a humbling experience as a coach to be able to help contribute to their development.”
Mike Dellemann (Oregon, Wisc.) posted the top finishes for the U.S. team after finishing 12th and eighth in the men’s races.
“Even though I was less prepared than I was hoping for, I was trying to be as confident as possible,” Dellemann said. “I hope I can carry what I learned here on my first trip to Europe for the rest of the season and next.”
Dellemann made a few mistakes in the first race and clocked a total time of 1:58.21 to finish outside of the top 10, but he made corrections and moved up four spots with a combined time of 1:55.86 in today’s competition.
“Unfortunately, I made a mistake at the top which dropped me back on the first run of the first race, but I ended up fixing it thanks to Brian’s help and moved up a little,” Dellemann said. “I was much more ready for the second race and was very happy with where I was sitting. I laid it all on the line in the final run and was happy with it all.”
Brad Stewart (Hastings, Minn.) pushed out of the start grooves in the first race and was unable to make up time down the short Winterberg course. Stewart finished 14th with a two-run total of 1:58.38.
“I had a decent second run, but I was in a pretty big hole and only moved up a spot,” Stewart said. “I'm starting to like the track, but I wasn't quite able to make the corrections I needed in time for race day with only four training runs. Like elsewhere in Europe, inclement weather has been the enemy this trip. While I'd been here before, I felt like I was relearning the track with my new equipment along with the rest of the U.S. sliders.”
While Stewart wanted redemption in today’s race, he opted to sit out. The international federation announced earlier this week that athletes ranked fourth, 8th and 12th in Europa Cup standings after this weekend would be invited to homologate the track in Sochi, Russia in March. Stewart’s best shot to qualify would be to earn fewer points by missing today’s race and dropping to 12th overall.
“Based on yesterday’s result and my current point standings, we felt like there was a chance that I could finish 12th if I didn’t race,” Stewart said. “I felt like the tradeoff of missing a race versus getting access to Sochi for the U.S. program as a whole would be much more beneficial for our program in the long run. Unfortunately, I ended up with a few points too many and finished 11th overall. It was a gamble and didn't pay off, but I think it was worth the risk.”
“My hat goes off to Brad for sitting this race out,” McDonald said. “That really says a lot when an athlete is willing to sacrifice for the good of the team, and I can’t thank him enough for his efforts to help.”
Canadian Dave Greszczyszyn finished just 0.05 seconds ahead of Germany’s Christopher Grotheer to claim gold in the first race with a two-run total of 1:56.03. Dorin Velicu from Romania posted 1:56.19 for third.
Dominic Parsons from Great Britain was victorious in the second race in another close race that came down to the hundredths of a second. Parsons claimed gold with a total time of 1:54.61, while Grotheer again finished second with a combined time of 1:54.67. German David Lingmann claimed the third medal for the host nation in the men’s races after finishing 0.56 seconds behind his teammate for third.
The U.S. women struggled to mesh with the track and were unable to post top 10 finishes. Megan Henry (Roxbury, Conn.) finished 16th and 17th, while Meghan Sullivan (Bluemont, Va.) was 20th both days.
“Even though my overall finish was the same for both races, I had my fastest runs of the week and a personal record push during the second race,” Sullivan said “I was hoping for a better finish overall, but I have to take the good with the bad.”
Henry posted total times of 2:01.73 and 2:00.77 in the two race series, while Sullivan finished in 2:03.98 and 2:01.80. While the women were disappointed with their finishes, they were grateful for the sliding experience on the European tracks.
“The results may not sound great, but considering it was our first time on this track, I’m happy and look forward to coming back here,” Henry said. “I made improvements every heat here, which was my goal. These tracks are different than where I learned in Lake Placid, N.Y., and they are deceiving because they seem really easy, but it’s difficult to find speed and make corrections when mistakes aren’t blatantly obvious. I have definitely learned a lot on both tracks in Europe, especially with Brian’s guidance.”
British athlete Rose McGrandle was victorious by just 0.03 seconds in the first competition after clocking a combined time of 1:59.43. Canadian Cassie Hawrysh claimed silver, while Australian Melissa Hoar nabbed bronze with a total time of 1:59.49.
Hawrysh improved her performance the second day to claim gold with a two-run total of 1:57.82. Sophia Griebel secured the only medal for the host nation in the women’s races after posting a combined time of 1:57.86 for second place. Svetlana Vasilyeva from Russia earned bronze with a total time of 1:58.00.
“It was actually very cool to see Cassie step up and take gold today,” Henry said. “She had some solid performances that shocked some Intercontinental Cup people competing in these races, which I hope to emulate in the future.”
The squad will return to the U.S. to prepare for national championships in Lake Placid this spring, where they will test their new skills against the national team. For media inquiries, please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (518) 354-2250.
Men’s Skeleton Race #1:
1. Dave Greszczyszyn (CAN) 1:56.03 (57.96, 58.70); 2. Christopher Grotheer (GER) 1:56.08 (57.96, 58.12); 3. Dorin Velicu (ROU) 1:56.19 (58.00, 58.19);…12. Mike Dellemann (USA) 1:58.21 (59.36, 58.85);…14. Brad Stewart (USA) 1:58.38 (59.42, 58.96);
Men’s Skeleton Race #2:
1. Dominic Parsons (GBR) 1:54.61 (57.36, 57.25); 2. Christopher Grotheer (GER) 1:54.67 (57.32, 57.35); 3. David Lingmann (GER) 1:55.23 (57.67, 57.56);…8. Mike Dellemann (USA) 1:55.86 (58.03, 57.83);…Brad Stewart (USA) DNS;
Women’s Skeleton Race #1:
1. Rose McGrandle (GBR) 1:59.43 (59.56, 59.87); 2. Cassie Hawrysch (CAN) 1:59.46 (59.84, 59.62); 3. Melissa Hoar (AUS) 1:59.49 (59.63, 59.86);…16. Megan Henry (USA) 2:01.73 (1:00.91, 1:00.82);…20. Meghan Sullivan (USA) 2:03.98 (1:01.19, 1:02.79);
Women’s Skeleton Race #2:
1. Cassie Hawrysh (CAN) 1:57.82 (58.85, 58.97); 2. Sophia Griebel (GER) 1:57.86 (58.90, 58.96); 3. Svetlana Vasilyeva (RUS) 1:58.00 (59.02, 58.98);…17. Megan Henry (USA) 2:00.77 (1:00.30, 1:00.47);…20. Meghan Sullivan (USA) 2:01.80 (1:00.93, 1:00.87);
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