Contact: Amanda Bird, USABS Marketing & Communications Director
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Cunningham pilots three rookies to three silver medals in Park City four-man bobsled races
PARK CITY, Utah (Dec. 11, 2019)– Three-time Olympian Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) was on the sidelines as a USA Bobsled development coach since the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics until two days ago, when he was back in the pilot’s seat to give three rookies a chance to race in the Park City North American Cup. Cunningham teamed with Gage Smith (Whiteface, Mont.), Boone Niederhofer (San Antonio, Texas) and Alex Mustard (Missoula, Mont.) to claim three silver medals in the Park City North American Cup four-man bobsled races.
“I’m really thankful for the opportunity to get back into a sled and race,” Cunningham said. “The track crew really had their backs against the wall with the track refrigeration system failure so close to the season starting. We cannot thank the track crew and the Utah Olympic Park enough for their hard work and dedication to our sports.”
All three rookies have impressive athletic resumes. Smith and Mustard were student-athletes at the University of Montana, where Smith was a walk-on for the football team and Mustard competed in track and field. Niederhofer is a former Texas A&M wide receiver. Mustard and Niederhofer were also two of 50 athletes invited to participate in season 3 of “Milk Life presents, The Next Olympic Hopeful.”
“Competing for the first time in Park City was a great introduction to official bobsled racing,” Mustard said. “We were very grateful for Nick Cunningham to pilot for us on such short notice, and to the other coaches for helping everything go smoothly.”
“We had an awesome week getting to know more about the sport of bobsled and getting to finally compete,” Smith said. “It was such an awesome opportunity to work with someone like Nick Cunningham, who has been around the sport for such a long time and seen success on the highest level. Working with Alex (Mustard) and Boone (Niederhofer) has been great, and continuing to gel with them and build chemistry comes easy when you’ve got guys like that in your sled.”
Cunningham, Smith, Niederhofer and Mustard combined forces for the second-fastest push times of 5.11 and 5.05 seconds in today’s first two heats. Cunningham piloted the crew to the finish in 48.97 and 48.92 seconds for a combined time of 1:37.89 to earn the Americans their first silver medal today. Cunningham, Smith, Niederhofer and Mustard earned another silver medal for the second-fastest time of the second heat, which counted for race points itself.
Team Cunningham claimed their third silver medal today in a two-heat race. The crew powered off the start in 5.03 and 5.02 for runs of 48.92 and 48.89 seconds, respectively, to finish second in 1:37.81.
“We had a great day today,” Cunningham said. “We focused on working together as a crew and getting better. They only had two practice runs in a four-man sled before the races, and I think that alone shows their athletic potential and drive to be successful bobsledders.”
Canadians Taylor Austin, Keefer Joyce, Mark Mlakar and Teodor Kostelnik claimed gold in all three four-man races, while Jeff McKeen, Anthoony Couturier-Lagace, Pierric Landry-Desranleau earned three bronze medals for Team Canada.
Cunningham led USA Bobsled to five medals in the Park City North American Cup, bringing Team USA’s total for this event to 10.
“We had no idea what to expect going into this week,” Niederhofer said. “Coming out of these races with five medals is something to be proud of. Although we can find a lot of positives from this week, it’s hard to be super excited about not winning, so we are hungry to get back to work and continue to get better.”
The North American Cup tour will then resume from January 2-9 in Lake Placid, N.Y. Please contact USABS Marketing & Communications Director Amanda Bird at 518-354-2250, or email@example.com, with media inquiries.
Four-man bobsled race #1
1. Taylor Austin, Mark Mlakar, Teodor Kostelnik and Keefer Joyce (CAN) 1:37.03 (48.31, 48.72);
2. Nick Cunningham, Gage Smith, Boone Niederhofer and Alex Mustard (USA) 1:37.89 (48.97, 48.92);
3. Jeff McKeen, Anthony Couturier-Legace, Pierric Landry-Desranleau and Patrice St-Louis Pivin (CAN) 1:38.37 (49.12, 49.25);
Four-man bobsled race #2
1.Taylor Austin, Keefer Joyce, Teodor Kostelnik and Mark Mlakar (CAN) 48.72;
2. Nick Cunningham, Boone Niederhofer, Gage Smith and Alex Mustard (USA) 48.92;
3. Jeff McKeen, Pierric Landry-Desranleau, Anthony Couturier-Legace and Patice St-Louise Pivin (CAN0 49.25;
Four-man bobsled race #3
1. Taylor Austin, Teodor Kostelnik, Mark Mlakar, Keefer Joyce and Mike Evelyn (CAN) 1:37.59 (48.72, 48.87);
2. Nick Cunningham, Gage Smith, Alex Mustard and Boone Niederhofer (USA) 1:37.81 (48.92, 48.89);
3. Jeff McKeen, Anthony Couturier-Legace, Pierric Landry-Desranleau and Patrice St-Louis Pivin (CAN) 1:38.24 (48.98, 49.26);
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, BiPro, Boomerang Carnets, Hudl, Tesa Tape, PVS International, Ferris Mfg. Corp, Machintek, deBotech and Carpenter. For more information, please visit the USABS website at www.usabs.com.