Henry takes silver in Intercontinental Cup opener to lead Team USA as international season kicks off
IGLS, Austria (Nov. 10, 2016)- Megan Henry (Roxbury, Conn.) started her 2016-2017 campaign strong, earning a silver medal in the first Intercontinental Cup Circuit (ICC) race of the season. Kyle Brown (Concord, N.H.) was the fastest American in the men’s ICC race with a sixth place finish, while Kellie Delka (Collinsville, Texas) and Mike Rogals (Orwell, Vt.) were the top Team USA finishers in the European (EC) races, which coincided with the ICC opener in Igls, Austria, with seventh place finishes.
“It was a great way to start off the year here in Igls at our first ICC race,” said Brian McDonald, USA Skeleton ICC coach. “These athletes have a lot to prove this year. They want the World Cup team to know they are coming for them.”
Henry recorded a combined downtime of 1:49.48 in the competition by threading together runs of 54.72 and 54.76 seconds to finish 0.93 seconds behind Kimberley Bos of Netherlands, who posted a 1:48.55 downtime, and ahead of third-place finisher Lanette Prediger of Canada, who finished in 1:49.53. Henry, who has competed on the ICC the past two seasons, earned her spot on the 2016-2017 national team after a successful USA Skeleton National Team Trials showing in which she finished in the top-five in the final two races.
“Team trials was such a whirlwind with some extreme highs and lows so I am really grateful to take those lessons and start off the season with a medal,” Henry said. “The Army WCAP has been instrumental in making my participation and success here in Igls a reality. Both the ICC and EC teams have been really great and supportive. The coaches have kept a positive learning environment so we were all able to make some adjustments quickly in order to try and bring our best collectively as a nation on race day. We are looking forward to stepping it up and having more of us in the top six tomorrow.”
“The Igls track is tricky,” Graybill said. “It's low pressure and small errors can lead to significant time loss. However, I set a new push personal best, and watched several of my teammates perform incredibly. Overall, the team dynamic has been great, and everyone has been really supportive, so I'm anxious to get back to work at this track tomorrow.”
“Savannah was consistently fast in training and she may have been trying to be to perfect during the race,” McDonald said. “She and Veronica will go into tomorrow's race more relaxed and focused on building speed, eager to move up in standings.”
Brown finished in sixth place to lead Team USA in the men’s ICC competition in a race that saw Germans Kilian Von Schleinitz, who finished in 1:46.16, Michael Zachrau (1:46.43) and Feliz Keisinger (1:46.90) sweep the podium. The third-year national team member has no shortage of experience on the Igls track, as he finished in 13th at World Championships there last season. In his 2016-2017 debut, Brown recorded downtimes of 53.90 and 53.43, which was the third-fastest time of the second heat.
“Today was far more of a mental victory than any award or trophy would be,” Brown said. “I had a really tough time during team trials where I was just not myself. This past week was a great time to step aside and really figure out what was going on. I started having fun again today which is what makes this sport so enjoyable. We, as a team, worked really well all week figuring out this tricky track and sharing knowledge that would prove to be advantageous on both the men's and women's side. Teamwork makes the dream work. We are going to be a tough team to beat this winter and the U.S. program has never looked stronger across all of the circuits.”
“Kyle Brown got his confidence back today,” McDonald said. “ I think he finally switched into race mode and stopped worrying about results. When he pushes fast and drives well he can be competitive on any circuit he races on.”
Brown’s teammates Greg West (Springfield, Mo.) and Stephen Garbett (Parker Colo.) posted 14th and 27th-place finishes, respectively.
On the European Cup, which also took place in Igls, Delka and Rogals each improved on their first heat downtimes to clinch seventh place finishes. Delka, who was competing for the first time on the Igls track, finished with a combined downtime of 1:51.93. Teammate Samantha Culiver (Scottsdale, Ariz.), the only other American in the women’s race, finished in 17th place. Germans Tamara Seer (1:49.78) and Maxi Just (1:50.43) took the top two spots on the podium, while Olga Potylitsina (1:50.86) of Russia finished third.
Delka said she was encouraged by the results today, and that more experience on the track will make for better racing in tomorrow’s competition.
“Racing went well, there’s always things we can fix and improve on but we all know what we need to do for tomorrow,” she said. “My teammates make the racing atmosphere less stressful and more exciting, and our coach, Orvie [Garrett], does a fantastic job with us. We are all excited for tomorrow and we are hoping to see several of us, if not all, in the top six.”
Competing against Delka and Culiver was Maya Pedersen, the 2006 Olympic skeleton champion for Switzerland, who made her return to the sport today after a six-year retirement. At the age of 43, Pederson is hoping to qualify for Pyeongchang for Norway, the home nation of her husband, Snorre Pedersen. She finished tied for ninth today.
On the men’s side, the Germans once again completed a sweep. Fablan Kuechler (1:47.93) edged teammate Dominic Rady by just 0.02 seconds, and Felix Seibel (1:48.18) earned the bronze. Rogals strung together downtimes of 54.48 and 54.12 to finish just ahead of teammate Alex Ivanov (Carlisle, Mass.), who finished in eighth. Rogals edged Ivanov’s 1:48.71 downtime by just 0.11 seconds, and said there are elements of his slide he wants to work on during tomorrow’ competition.
“For tomorrow, I'm just going to try to clean up my little mistakes from today and try to have fun,” he said. “The race today went relatively well, I still have some stuff to work on for tomorrow but I'm happy with today.”
Racing will resume at 9 a.m. local time tomorrow with the European Cup, then will continue at 2 p.m. local time with ICC. For media inquiries, please contact Amanda Bird, USABS Marketing & Communications Director, at email@example.com, or at (518) 354-2250.
Women’s Skeleton (ICC)
1. Kimberley Bos (NED) 1.48.55 (54.23, 54.32);
2. Megan Henry (USA) 1:49.48 (54.72, 54.76);
3. Lanette Prediger (CAN) 1:49.53 (54.85, 54.68);
8. Savannah Graybill (USA) 1:50.07 (55.15, 54.92);
18. Veronica Day (USA) 1:52.14 (55.64, 56.50)
Men’s Skeleton (ICC)
1. Kilian Von Schleinitz (GER) 1:46.16 (53.19, 52.97);
2. Michael Zachrau (GER) 1:46.43 (53.14, 53.29);
3. Feliz Keisinger (GER) 1:46.90 (53.40, 53.50);
6. Kyle Brown (USA) 1:47.33 (53.90, 53.43);
14. Greg West (USA) 1:48.16 (54.18, 53.98);
27. Stephen Garbett (USA) 54.74 (54.74, DNS)
Women’s Skeleton (EC)
1. Tamara Seer (GER) 1:49.78 (55.00, 54.78);
2. Maxi Just (GER) 1:50.43 (55.39, 55.04);
3. Olga Potylitsina (RUS) 1:50.86 (55.55, 55.31);
7. Kellie Delka (USA) 1:51.93 (56.01, 55.92);
17. Samantha Culiver (USA) 1:52.83 (56.59, 56.24)
Men’s Skeleton (EC)
1. Fablan Kuechler (GER) 1:47.93 (54.13, 53.80);
2. Dominic Rady (GER) 1:47.95 (54.15, 53.80);
3. Felix Seibel (GER) 1:48.18 (54.04, 54.14);
7. Mike Rogals (USA) 1:48.60 (54.48, 54.12);
8. Alex Ivanov (USA) 1:48.71 (54.60, 54.11)
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