Cunningham, Gilsleider and Vogt, Jones win USA Bobsled National Championship titles
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (March 31, 2017)- Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) and Nathan Gilseleider (Claremore, Okla.) claimed the men’s 2017 USA Bobsled National Championship title, while Nicole Vogt (Dallas, Texas) and Briauna Jones (Charlotte, N.C.) were awarded the women’s crown in the final race of the 2016-2017 season in Lake Placid this morning. National team pilots did not race while testing equipment in preparation for the 2017-2018 season.
“This was definitely a fun race and it’s always nice to end the season on a high note,” Cunningham said. “It’s been such an up and down year for me coming back from injury and not making the national team, trying to find my way back and making the world championship team. The main point of today was to have fun racing, and we did that today. The newer pilots racing today also made a statement and I know they impressed a lot of the veteran pilots.”
Cunningham is a two-time Olympian and is making a bid for his third, but the veteran pilot has battled numerous injuries over the last quad. He raced the North American Cup tour this season where he claimed the combined title after claiming 10 medals, seven of them gold, to earn a spot on the 2017 World Championship team.
Cunningham paired with Gilsleider today to claim the men’s USA Bobsled National Championship title by 1.43 seconds. The duo posted a start time of 5.25 seconds in both heats for runs of 56.17 and 56.64 seconds to earn the crown with a total of 1:52.81. With the 2016-2017 season officially over, Cunningham said he is already turning his attention to his offseason training.
“I’ve been battling injuries for the last four to five years, and I’ve always been fighting to hang on,” Cunningham said. “This year I’m finally going into an offseason healthy, and my main goal is to be the athlete I was when I first came into the sport. This is probably my last go around and attempt at an Olympic Games, and I have less than on year to dedicate everything to that one goal. When I look back I want to know I gave it everything.”
Geoff Gadbois (Milton, Vt.) and Nic Taylor (Hayward, Calif.) were second in 1:54.24, while Dustin Greenwood (Aurora, Colo.) and Erik Baker (Tonawanda, N.Y.) claimed bronze in 1:55.00.
Vogt and Jones were dominant in the women’s field, winning the women’s title by 1.50 seconds with a combined time of 1:56.02. The pair pushed start times of 5.73 and 5.72 seconds for downtimes of 57.74 and 58.28 seconds, respectively. Vogt said she left some room for improvement, but was pleased with today’s result, especially since she was learning a new sled leading into the competition.
“These weren’t my best runs of the year, but it was my first week driving a BMW sled and learning a new sled is always a challenge,” Vogt said. “I’m happy with my progress so far and I’m looking forward to next year. This offseason I’ll be working hard preparing for team trials; it’s a big year coming up. My goal is to make the national team and place in the top three at trials. I’m looking for progress in the forward direction heading into next season.”
Katie Eberling (Palos Hills, Ill.) and Bonnie Kilis (Marlborough, Conn.) posted the fastest push times of the day, 5.69 and 5.72 seconds, and claimed silver with a two-run total of 1:57.52. Kristi Koplin (Park City, Utah) and Shelby Williamsen (Colorado Springs, Colo.) finished third in 1:57.75.
Today’s USA Bobsled National Championships officially concludes the 2016-2017 racing season. Athletes will begin their offseason in preparation for the upcoming Olympic year, which is expected to begin in Lake Placid with team trials in October.
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1. Nicole Vogt and Briauna Jones 1:56.02 (57.74, 58.28);
2. Katie Eberling and Bonnie Kilis 1:57.52 (58.44, 59.08);
3. Kristi Koplin and Shelby Williamsen 1:57.75 (58.65, 59.10);
1. Nick Cunningham and Nathan Gilsleider 1:52.81 (56.17, 56.64)
2. Geoff Gadbois and Nic Taylor 1:54.24 (57.03, 57.21);
3. Dustin Greenwood and Erik Baker 1:55.00 (57.31, 57.69);
4. Tyler Hickey and Marcus Poling 1:55.11 (57.22, 57.89);
5. Richard Roethel and Benjamin Goirigolzarri 1:57.05 (58.22, 58.83);
About USA Bobsled & Skeleton
USA Bobsled & Skeleton (USABS), based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. USABS would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: BMW of North America, Under Armour, Kampgrounds of America, Thorne Research, Boomerang Carnets, Hudl, Tesa Tape, PVS International, Ferris Mfg. Corp, Stress Engineering, Machintek, deBotech and Carpenter. For more information, please visit the USABS website at www.usabs.com.