Uhlaender and West lead USA Skeleton National Championships after first two heats

March 08, 2018, 4:08 p.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

Uhlaender and West lead USA Skeleton National Championships after first two heats

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (March 8, 2018)- Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) and Greg West (Springfield, Mo.) lead the women’s and men’s fields, respectively, at the midway point of the 2018 USA Skeleton National Championships.

A four heat race, nationals are scheduled over two days. The first two heats were run today, and the third and fourth heat, which will decide the national champions, will take place tomorrow.

Uhlaender, who is coming off a 13th-place finish at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, said that though her runs today weren’t as strong as her training runs this week, it feels good to return to home ice to close out the Olympic season.

“I think there’s been a common theme this season that I wasn’t aware of until now,” she said. “I crush training and then on race day, I try too hard to not try hard, so I think I have to adjust my mentality a little bit. This season has been tough to get into a rhythm with everything that has been going on, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to slide for fun. I took down two different sleds during training, and I think I’m honing my ability to adapt.”

Uhlaender threw down the fastest time of each heat in the women’s competition, utilizing pushes of 5.43 and 5.45 seconds en route to consistent downtimes of 55.28 and 55.29 seconds. She sits just over half of a second ahead of Savannah Graybill (Denver, Pa.), who is currently in second after clocking finish times of 55.39 and 55.71 seconds.

Graybill competed on the World Cup tour this season, her fourth consecutive season on the USA Skeleton National Team. She was Team USA’s third-ranked women’s skeleton athlete at the end of the season, and recorded a season-best 11th-place finish in the Lake Placid World Cup race in November. Megan Henry (Roxbury, Conn.), who spent the season on the Intercontinental Cup (ICC), sits in third place after today’s heats with a two-run combined time of 1:51.40. Henry also had the fastest push time of the second heat, 5.30 seconds.

Sam Culiver (Scottsdale, Ariz.) is in fourth place after two heats. Her 1:51.70 combined time puts her ahead of Gracie Clapp-Taylor (Saint Johns, Fla.), who’s in fifth with a 1:52.13, and the 2017-2018 North American Cup Champion Kelly Curtis (Princeton, N.J.), who sits in sixth with a 1:52.64 combined time.

On the men’s side, West, who made his World Cup debut this season and finished the year ranked 27th in the world, leads a tight men’s field. West powered his sled off the start to 5.04 and 5.06-second pushes and crossed the finish line with downtimes of 53.92 and 54.21 seconds to take a 0.18-second lead over Kyle Brown (Concord, N.H.).

West did not compete in nationals last season due to an injury, but came out strong at the beginning of the 2017-2018 season to take second in USA Skeleton National Team Trials behind three-time Olympian John Daly. West finished the season as Team USA’s third-ranked slider, and said he was pleased with his runs today, which included a personal best time in his first heat.

“I had a PR in the first run even though I thought it was a little sloppy,” he said. “The second run was a little bit slower, but I’m trying to start the quad right and start developing again, and it’s been going well so far. We’ve got four years to prepare for the next Games, and we’re very focused. It’s going to be here before we know it.”

Brown clocked downtimes of 54.17 and 54.14 seconds to solidify his second-place position overnight. The four-time national team member sat in third behind Austin Florian (Southington, Conn.) after the first heat, but threw down the fastest time of the second run to overtake Florian.

Brown competed on the ICC this season, which wrapped up in January. He then returned home to take some time away from the sport, a move he said helped his mental state heading into nationals.

“It was a good first day,” Brown said. “I haven’t slid in about two months, I needed a little bit of time to clear my head and figure some things out after the season. My push isn’t where I want it to be, but it’s one of those things that will come back with time. My sled was set up well for today’s conditions, and I’m ready to come out tomorrow and finish the season on a high note.”

Florian was the men’s skeleton overall North American Cup champion this season, marking the most successful season of his career. The 23-year-old posted downtimes of 53.90 and 54.43 seconds today and had the quickest start time of each heat with 4.84 and 4.87-second pushes. He sits in third overnight, with a significant lead over current fourth-place slider Alex Ivanov (Carlisle, Mass.), who finished with a combined time of 1:49.91. Stephen Garbett (Parker, Colo.) and Mike Rogals (Orwell, Vt.) are in fifth and sixth with combined times of 1:49.97 and 1:50.21, respectively.

Racing resumes tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. EST with the final two heats, at the end of which the 2018 USA Skeleton National Champions will be crowned.

“It’s been such a long season, and it’s nice to get the group together and see how the new sliders have progressed,” West said. “It’s great to see everyone, we’ve all been on different tours so we haven’t seen each other in a long time. It’s a good environment to race in.”

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



Katie Uhlaender 1:50.57 (55.28, 55.29);

Savannah Graybill 1:51.10 (55.39, 55.71);

Megan Henry 1:51.40 (55.37, 55.71);

Sam Culiver 1:51.70 (55.73,55.97);

Gracie Clapp 1:52.13  (55.84, 56.29);

Kelly Curtis 1:52.64 (56.23, 56.41);

Kristen Hurley 1:53.58 (56.56, 57.02);

Leslie Stratton 1:53.63 (56.51, 57.12);

Kellie Delka 1:53.65 (56.75, 56.90);

Sara Roderick 1:53.78 (56.86, 56.92);

Michelle Toukan 1:54.89 (57.34, 57.55);

Lauren McDonald 1:55.57 (57.39, 58.18);

Emily Schelberg 1:56.05 (57.54, 57.54, 58.51);

Mystique Ro 1:56.33 (57.34, 58.99);

Brooke Whitburn 1:57.23 (58.47, 58.76);


1. Greg West 1:48.13 (53.92, 54.21);

2. Kyle Brown 1:48.31 (54.17, 54.14);

3. Austin Florian 1:48.33 (53.90, 54.43);

4. Alex Ivanov 1:49.91 (54.93 54.98);

5. Stephen Garbett 1:49.97 (54.90, 55.07);

6. Mike Rogals 1:50.21 (54.91, 55.30);

7. Mike Brandt 1:50.89 (55.47, 55.42);

8. Dan Barefoot 1:50.98 (55.67, 55.31);

9. Max Delance 1:51.19 (55.85, 55.34);

10. Andrew Blaser 1:51.40 (55.93, 55.47);

11. Luke Favata 1:51.97 (55.73, 56.24);

12. Jared Firestone 1:52.03 (55.87, 56.16);

13. Derrick Thomas 1:53.04 (56.21, 56.83);

14. Ryan Restemayer 1:53.12 (56.40, 56.72);

15. Chris Strup 1:53.27 (56.42, 56.85);

16. Eric McCleod 1:53.91 (56.71, 57.20;

17. Jason Dunn 1:55.31 (57.33, 57.98);

18. Hunter Williams 1:55.76 (57.54, 58.22);

19. Eric Biesiada 1:56.78 (58.44, 58.34);

20. Luis Medina 1:58.36 (59.08, 59.28);

21. Roger Biesiada 1:59.63 (59.69, 59.94);

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.