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Pikus-Pace and Daly on track for skeleton team nomination
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (Oct. 23, 2012)- Noelle Pikus-Pace (Orem, Utah) and John Daly (Smithtown, N.Y.) convincingly won the first of four skeleton team selection races in Lake Placid, N.Y. this morning. Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) and Matt Antoine (Prairie du Chien, Wisc.) earned a bye onto the team based on their performances last season, leaving one women’s and two men’s spots on the World Cup squad up for grabs.
“The door is wide open for a lot of these athletes,” said head skeleton coach Tuffy Latour. “I’m expecting three more great races. We have 36 athletes out here vying for a spot, and it’s one of the most competitive fields we’ve had. It’s also great to see both Noelle and John step it up with their push times. I have high expectations for both of these athletes, and I look forward to seeing what happens tomorrow.”
Pikus-Pace announced her retirement after her final run of the 2010 Olympics and decided to make a comeback this season. The 2007 World Champion will need to fulfill the international federation’s rule of five races on three tracks over 24 months before she’s qualified to compete on the World Cup tour, but Pikus-Pace proved she’s ready to challenge the best in the world after earning today’s win by 1.37 seconds.
“It feels so good to be back, I really love sliding,” Pikus-Pace said. “I love Lake Placid, the track crew is awesome, and it makes all the difference in the world to have my family here with me.”
When asked if there was anything that surprised her about being back, Pikus-Pace said, “Going fast.”
Pikus-Pace clocked the two fastest times of the race, 56.77 and 57.58 seconds, to dominate the women’s race with a combined time of 1:54.35. She posted a start time of 5.44 seconds in the final heat to not only lead the field with the fastest push, but to break her personal best record.
“I’m on a new program and stronger and faster than I’ve ever felt in my life,” Pikus-Pace said. “I was really super nervous for the first run of practice last week, but it’s been great to get back into the routine.”
Kimber Gabryszak (Park City, Utah) slid to the finish in 57.53 and 58.19 seconds for a two-run total of 1:55.72. Gabryszak, now a veteran of the team, finished second today and continues to better her start times each season.
“I’m glad the first race is in the bank,” Gabryszak said. “I was really nervous, as I always am for the first race of the season. It’s nice to get that out of the way. The track is in great shape. I felt wonderful today and I’m super happy.”
Meghan Sullivan (Bluemont, Va.) is entering her third season and finished third with a combined time of 1:56.31 after clocking runs of 57.64 and 58.67 seconds, while Savannah Graybill (Denver, Pa.) was close behind in fourth. Veteran Annie O’Shea (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.) continues to battle back from knee surgery a few weeks ago and finished fifth, and Samantha Culiver (Phoenix, Ariz.) finished sixth.
Daly threw down runs of 55.68 and 56.30 seconds for a total time of 1:51.98. Daly earned his first win of the season by 1.11 seconds.
“It feels good, I like winning,” Daly said. “It was a nice opening day of racing and there were some surprises in the results. Everyone slid really well and I’m happy I was able to win when the USA program is this strong. I’m excited for the season.”
Daly clocked identical start times of 4.88 seconds for the second best push times of the competition.
Kyle Tress (Ewing, N.J.) popped out of the groove at the start in the first heat and was unable to make up time down the course. Tress relied on his veteran experience to stay focused and moved up three positions into second with a total time of 1:53.09.
“It’s one of those things where it’s actually beneficial for me to have a run like [my first one] because [popping out of the groove] is always a possibility in our sport,” Tress said. “I’m really pleased I was able to pull things together…We have a really deep field of great athletes and we’re pushing each other every day. I’m extremely grateful to race with these guys.”
Third year slider Ryan Sweeney (Whitehall, N.Y.) surprised the field by posting a combined time of 1:53.64 for third place. Tom Santagato (Astoria, N.Y.) wrapped up the first day of racing in fourth position, Greg West (Orange Beach, Ala.) is currently in fifth, and Mike Dellemann (Oregon, Wisc.) is in sixth.
Racing continues tomorrow with the second of four skeleton selection races in the morning and the men’s four-man and women’s bobsled trials in the evening. Watch athlete reactions and interviews by visiting www.usbsf.com.
Please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Director, at email@example.com or 518-354-2250 with media inquiries.
1. Noelle Pikus-Pace 1:54.35 (56.77, 57.58); 2. Kimber Gabryszak 1:55.72 (57.53, 58.19); 3. Meghan Sullivan 1:56.31 (57.64, 58.67); 4. Savannah Graybill 1:56.37 (57.88, 58.49); 5. Annie O’Shea 1:56.48 (57.59, 58.89); 6. Samantha Culiver 1:56.50 (57.80, 58.70); 7. Lauren Salter 1:57.18 (58.07, 59.11); 8. Sherrie Emery 1:57.50 (58.57, 58.93); 9. Rachelle Rasmussen 1:58.25 (58.56, 59.69); 10. Veronica Day 1:58.34 (58.73, 59.61); 11. Blair Tomten 1:58.36 (58.88, 59.48); 12. Morgan Tracey 1:58.40 (58.71, 59.69); 13. Caitlin Carter 1:59.17 (59.34, 59.83); 14. Kristina Hull 1:59.54 (59.79, 59.75); 15. Corinne Dipeitro 1:59.74 (59.32, 1:00.42); 16. Gracie Clapp 1:59.80 (59.38, 1:00.42);
1. John Daly 1:51.98 (55.68, 56.30); 2. Kyle Tress 1:53.09 (56.51, 56.58); 3. Ryan Sweeney 1:53.64 (56.32, 57.32); 4. Tom Santagato 1: 53.67 (56.45, 57.22); 5. Greg West 1:53.99 (56.33, 57.66); 6. Mike Dellemann 1:54.08 (56.82, 57.26); 7. Allen Blackwell 1:54.24 (56.85, 57.39); 8. Brad Stewart 1:54.42 (56.52, 57.90); 9. Mitch Danbe 1:54.48 (56.86, 57.62); 10. Austin McCrary 1:54.69 (57.22, 57.47); 11. Derek Pirtle 1:54.74 (56.89, 57.85); 12. Kevin McGlade 1:55.50 (57.37, 58.13); 13. Alex Ivanov 1:55.70 (57.24, 58.46); 14. Pat Calder 1:55.82 (57.64, 58.18); 15. Chase Seamans 1:55.99 (57.62, 58.37); 16. Nick Rettenmyer 1:56.39 (57.87, 58.52); 17. Nathan Crumpton 1:56.23 (58.10, 58.13); 18. Gary Wozniak 1:57.63 (58.36, 59.27);
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, Vivat!, Global Forwarding, KBC Helmets, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Autism Speaks, Park City Lodging, EDAS/Ripxx, UberSense, Tesa Tape and Ferris Mfg. Corp. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at http://bobsled.teamusa.org.