Blaser leads USA Skeleton with silver and bronze in Park City North American Cup

Nov. 30, 2017, 11:36 a.m. (ET)

Contact: Amanda Bird, USABS Marketing & Communications Director, (518) 354-2250, amanda.bird@usabs.com
Kristen Gowdy, USABS Media and Marketing Assistant, (719) 722-0522, kristen.gowdy@usabs.com

Blaser leads USA Skeleton with silver and bronze in Park City North American Cup

PARK CITY, Utah (Nov. 30, 2017)- Andrew Blaser (Meridian, Idaho) won his third and fourth consecutive North American Cup (NAC) medals in Park City this week to lead USA Skeleton on home ice. Blaser took bronze and silver, respectively, in the two races after earning two bronze medals in last week’s competitions in Whistler, Canada.


For Blaser, who said he struggled during USA Skeleton National Team Trials, honing his mental game has been key to the podium finishes.


“I have really been trying to keep a level competitive head this season,” he said.
“I didn’t have a great performance in team trials, and I have taken a lot of time trying find a happy and fun, but focused headspace on the line.”


Blaser has slid on the NAC circuit for the past two seasons, claiming his first international medal, a silver, in Park City during the 2015-2016 season. The four medals he has won this season are his first since, and the up-and-coming athlete is currently ranked third on the NAC circuit, while teammate Austin Florian (Southington, Conn.) is second.


Blaser and Florian were once again Team USA’s top two finishers in both Park City men’s races. To open the week on Tuesday, Blaser’s 1:41.18 downtime earned him the bronze medal, while Florian took fifth in 1:41.33. Australian Olympian John Farrow won the race with a combined downtime of 1:40.37, while Japan’s Katsuyuki Miyajima took second in 1:40.62.


Fellow American Austin McCrary (Colleyville, Texas) posted the eighth fastest run in the first heat, a 50.71, but fell back in the second heat after a 51.32 second run, placing him in 11th place. Dakarai Kongela (Suquamish, Wash.), competing in his first international race of the season, had a stellar first run that put him into fifth place between heats, but struggled in the second run, mustering the 17th fastest downtime of the heat to drop him back to 15th. He finished with a combined downtime of 1:42.43.


Kelly Curtis (Princeton, N.J.) and Samantha Culiver (Scottsdale, Ariz.) led Team USA in the women’s opening race, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively. Curtis, who sits atop the NAC women’s skeleton standings, posted start times of 5.16 and 5.22 en route to downtimes of 52.11 and 52.31. Canadian Lanette Prediger won the race in 1:42.84, while Sophia Jeong of Korea earned silver in 1:43.09 and China’s Danxia Yang took third in 1:43.57. Culiver’s 1:44.53 combined downtime was just 0.11 off Curtis’ for sixth place.


Americans Kristen Hurley (Columbia, Conn.) and Mystique Ro (Nokesville, Va.) took 14th and 18th, respectively. For Ro, the competition was just her second international race.


In the second men’s race, Blaser tied his best career finish with silver medal by finishing 0.31 seconds behind Farrow, who won his second consecutive gold. Blaser threw down two consistent runs, 50.13 and 49.92 in the first and second heats, respectively, to post a combined downtime of 1:40.05.


“Park City was was interesting because I didn’t have any runs here this year,” Blaser said. “It’s a little rattling to walk out to the line of my home track but not have it feel like home. Racing in Park City is always great though, the ice was comfortable and smooth and we had a large field with I believe two Olympians. I had some uncharacteristic hits in the lower part of the track but was focused on eliminating mistakes every run. I had four pushes faster than my previous personal bests, and I am consistently sliding some of my fastest times.”


Blaser finished ahead of Miyajima, who took third in 1:40.32. Florian was Team USA’s next fastest result, finishing sixth in 1:40.66. McCrary took 14th, while Dan Barefoot (Orlando, Fla.), racing in the second international competition of his career, missed a second run and ended in 27th.


In the second women’s race, Curtis, who has already won three medals this season, posted the third fastest downtime of each heat, but finished in fourth behind Jeong, Yang and China’s Chengfeng Long, who made up the podium. Curtis’ 1:42.88 combined downtime was 0.49 from Jeong’s winning time of 1:42.39, while Yang was just 0.08 seconds behind Jeong. Long took bronze in 1:42.57.


Culiver, meanwhile, strung together runs of 51.48 and 51.85 to finish fifth. Culiver has also had a strong start to the season, posting top six finishes in every race. Michelle Toukan (Central City, Neb.), who posted a stellar seventh place result in her first international race in Calgary, Canada last week, finished in 14th, while Hurley ended in 16th.


NAC Skeleton athletes have a break for the holidays before wrapping up their season in Lake Placid, N.Y. in January. NAC Bobsled continues today and tomorrow with four-man competition.


For media inquiries, please contact Amanda Bird, USABS Marketing & Communications Director, at amanda.bird@usabs.com, or at (518) 354-2250.


Women’s Skeleton Race #1


1. Lanette Prediger (CAN) 1:42.84 (51.43, 51.41);

2. Sophia Jeong (KOR) 1:43.09 (51.59, 51.50);

3. Danxia Yang (CHN) 1:43.57 (51.88, 51.69);

5. Kelly Curtis (USA) 1:44.42 (52.11, 52.31);

6. Samantha Culiver (USA) 1:44.53 (51.97, 52.56);

14. Kristen Hurley (USA) 1:46.70 (52.80, 53.90);

18. Mystique Ro (USA) 1:48.72 (54.82, 53.90);


Men’s Skeleton Race #1


1. John Farrow (AUS) 1:40.37 (50.02, 50.37);

2. Katsuyuki Miyajima (JAP) 1:40.62 (49.97, 50.65);

3. Andrew Blaser (USA) 1:41.18 (50.37, 50.81);

5. Austin Florian (USA) 1:41.33 (50.35, 50.98);

11. Austin McCrary (USA) 1:42.03 (50.71, 51.32);

15. Dakarai Kongela (USA) 1:42.43 (50.55, 51.88);


Women’s Skeleton Race #2


1. Sophia Jeong (KOR) 1:42.39 (50.83, 51.56);

2. Danxia Yang (CHN) 1:42.47 (51.25, 51.22);

3. Chengfeng Long (CHN) 1:42.57 (50.54, 52.03);

4. Kelly Curtis (USA) 1:42.88 (51.17, 51.71);

5. Samantha Culiver (USA) 1:43.33 (51.48, 51.85);

14. Michelle Toukan (USA) 1:44.96 (52.33, 52.63);

16. Kristen Hurley (USA) 1:46.33 (52.55, 53.78);


Men’s Skeleton Race #2


1. John Farrow (AUS) 1:39.74 (50.02, 49.72);

2. Andrew Blaser (USA) 1:40.05 (50.13, 49.92);

3. Katsuyuki Miyajima (JAP) 1:40.32 (50.28, 50.04);

6. Austin Florian (USA) 1:40.66 (50.36, 50.30);

14. Austin McCrary (USA) 1:41.80 (50.90, 50.90);

27. Dan Barefoot (USA) 52.26 (52.26, DNS);


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, Boomerang Carnets, Hudl Technique, Tesa Tape, PVS International, Ferris Mfg. Corp, Stress Engineering, Machintek, deBotech and Carpenter. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at www.usabs.com.

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