There’s still one world cup skeleton race remaining on the schedule, and Matt Antoine could practically do cartwheels down the track if he wanted and still qualify for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
After Friday’s 13th-place finish at a world cup in Altenberg, Germany, Antoine is ranked No. 7 in the world and has guaranteed he will finish the Olympic qualification period as Team USA’s top-ranked slider when it ends on Jan. 14, no matter what happens during the race on Jan. 12 in St. Moritz, Switzerland. That means that Antoine, 32, of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, has qualified for his second trip to the Games.
John Daly, also 32, is the next-highest ranked American, currently ranked 13th, and is looking strong to be selected to the U.S. Olympic Team for the third time in his career, but he will be unable to surpass Antoine as the top U.S. man.
Antoine won the bronze medal in skeleton at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 for the country’s first medal in the event in 12 years, then nearly walked away from the sport during a battle with situational depression, about which he’s blogged candidly. He was seventh at the world championships last February and has enjoyed four top-10 finishes so far this season in world cup races. He has earned 11 world cup medals in his career.
The U.S. will send two or three athletes to PyeongChang, depending on allocation of quotas, and if the U.S. earns three spots and Daly maintains his lead over third-place Greg West he would ensure his spot, while the third spot would be discretionary. The Olympic skeleton team will be named on or by Jan. 15 following the close of the qualification period.