CESANA, Italy- Defending World Cup Champion Zach Lund (Salt Lake City, Utah) was the highest U.S. finisher in today's men's skeleton World Cup competition on the 2006 Olympic track in Cesana, Italy, finishing fifth. Eric Bernotas (Avondale, Pa.), who led in World Cup points entering today's race, finished eighth. Lund, who broke the track record on the way to winning gold in Cesana last season, struggled in today's competition. Pushing the 17th best push of the first heat, Lund drove himself up eight positions into ninth with a run of 58.49 seconds. The defending World Cup Champion rebounded in the second heat, pushing a 4.81 for the fifth best time of the heat, a 58.33. Lund's two-heat combined time was 1:56.82, placing him fifth, just 0.16 seconds from the medal stand. Bernotas finished eighth in today's competitive field with a total time of 1:57.17. Bernotas pushed a 4.80 and 4.78 in the two-heat race, for runs of 58.45 and 58.72, respectively. John Montgomery from Canada, who nestled between Lund and Bernotas for the silver medal at the Lake Placid, N.Y. World Cup this season, claimed his first World Cup gold today. The Canadian had the fastest run of the day, 57.89, giving him a large lead over the field entering the second heat. Montgomery's splits were faster in the second run until the fifth interval, where he began losing time, finishing with only the sixth fastest time of the second run, a 58.41. Despite encountering trouble in the second heat, Montgomery finished with a combined time of 1:56.30 for the gold medal. Great British athletes Anthony Sawyer and Adam Pengilly claimed the remaining two podium positions, finishing second and third, respectively. Sawyer had the third fastest run of the first heat, a 58.30, but responded with the fastest run of the second heat, a 58.05. Sawyer finished with a total time of 1:56.35, 0.41 seconds behind Montgomery. Pengilly had a first run time of 58.33 seconds, and tied his teammate for the fastest time of the second heat, a 58.05, to finish third with a two-heat combined time of 1:56.38. Russia's Alexander Tretiakov pushed an awe-inspiring 4.54-second start time, 0.13 seconds ahead of anyone else in the men's field. The"Russian Rocket"finished 15th. U.S. National Champion Caleb Smith (Lake Placid, N.Y.) finished 19th today after runs of 59.06 and 59.39 for a total time of 1:58.45. Montgomery now leads in World Cup standings with 819 points. Bernotas is second overall with 779, while Kristan Bromley from Great Britain is in third with 762 points. Lund is currently fourth overall, just 17 points from the top three. Log onto www.NBCOlympics.com, presented by MediaZone, to watch the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Team in action LIVE and On-Demand this weekend. Men's and women's skeleton will compete again in Cesana tomorrow at 3 am and 7 am EST. For complete results of the race, please visit www.bobsleigh.com, the Web site of the Federation International de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganning (FIBT). Results: 1. John Montgomery (CAN) 1:56.30 (57.89, 58.41); 2. Anthony Sawyer (GBR) 1:56.35 (58.30, 58.05); 3. Adam Pengilly (GBR) 1:56.38 (58.33, 58.05);_5. Zach Lund (USA) 1:56.82 (58.49, 58.33);_8. Eric Bernotas (USA) 1:57.17 (58.45, 58.72);_19. Caleb Smith (USA) 1:58.45 (59.06, 59.39); 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: Allianz Life, Columbia Sportswear Company, ULU Boots, CW-X, KBC Helmets, Racing Electronics, Schenker Logistics, Speedo and Whelen Engineering. For more information, please visit the USBSF Web site at www.usbsf.com.