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D’Arpino collects silver and bronze medals in Park City’s women’s monobob event
Photo from left to right: Vanessa D'Arpino, Lake Kwaza, and Shelby Williamson with coach Mike Dionne
PARK CITY, Utah (Feb. 17, 2020)– Vanessa D’Arpino (Grants Pass, Ore.) claimed silver and bronze medals in Park City’s two-day women’s monobob event over the weekend to lead the U.S. team. Shelby Williamson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Lake Kwaza (Sycamore, Ill.) also posted strong performances for Team USA, each finishing in the top six both days.
This is D’Arpino’s debut season, and she’s only raced once before this week; she finished 12th in the Lake Placid monobob race in November.
“This season I came in with low expectations, and I didn’t know where I’d end up in the sport,” D’Arpino said. “Starting with rookie camp and push champs for bobsled, to sliding skeleton for a couple weeks, it was a process figuring out where I was going to do. However, I knew bobsled was for me and I was thankful when coach Mike Dionne got me in the driver’s seat. So far I have loved it.”
D’Arpino was close to qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Team as a track athlete, but she fell just short of her goal. The setback turned into an opportunity when USABS Director of Athlete Development Mike Dionne sent her a direct message on Twitter asking if she wanted to consider trying out for the bobsled team.
D’Arpino admits that she initially thought it was “weird,” but after speaking with Dionne on the phone about the opportunity, she decided to give it a try.
“My goal for this year was to learn as much as I could and stay as involved as much as possible,” D’Arpino said. “We discussed a few monobob races early into training, and being the competitive person I am, I joked about reaching the podium after only a couple weeks of driving. Coming into Park City with more confidence and training, I told coach Dionne I was getting that podium, and he was fully supportive. It’s awesome to actually reach that goal.”
The former University of Oregon sprinter was the fastest athlete off the start block in race one with push times of 5.63 and 5.64 seconds. D’Arpino crossed the finish line in 54.89 seconds, which was second best of the heat, and 55.58 seconds to secure the bronze medal in 1:50.47.
Karlien Sleper from the Netherlands was race one’s winner in 1:49.20, while Ashleigh Werner from Great Britain was second in 1:50.38.
Williamson was just off her teammates pace in fourth place with a combined time of 1:51.00 after posting runs of 55.42 and 55.58 seconds. Kwaza, who is easing back into bobsled after joining the Army’s World Class Athlete Program, finished sixth with a combined time of 1:51.38.
“It is so good to be back on ice,” Kwaza said. “I joined the Army right after last season in May. I spent all summer doing Army training and got back on November 1st and right into a sled.”
Kwaza is no stranger to success on the ice. She has four World Cup medals, all won as a push athlete for Elana Meyers Taylor. Since returning to the ice after her Army training, Kwaza has jumped from the back of the sled into the driver’s seat.
“So far I have been extremely frustrated because, like anything new, it takes time and I have a hard time waiting,” Kwaza said. “But the time I’ve spent being in the front seat has been extremely valuable and I’m excited to continue with this path.”
D’Arpino was back on the podium in race two, earning the silver medal with a combined time of 1:58.99 after clocking runs of 57.99 and 1:01.00. Sleper was again victorious, this time with a two-run total of 1:56.63. Marina Silva Tuono from Brazil claimed bronze in 1:59.39.
Kwaza moved up into fifth place in race two after posting runs of 58.67 and 1:01.11 for a total time of 1:59.78. Williamson was sixth in 2:00.29 to place all Team USA competitors in the top six in both races.
Kwaza said she’s been able to use her veteran teammates as extra coaches as she learns in her new role as a driver.
“The drivers that we have on the team are just amazing human beings and are all about Team USA being successful,” Kwaza said. “Not one of them have declined helping me out in any way. No matter what stage I’m at, I have always felt like I’ve had the entire team behind me. Coach Dionne has also been so patient and helpful.”
“I have the best teammates around, and we’re constantly supporting each other,” D’Arpino said. “Lake Kwaza and I have been paired up since day one in the process of learning how to drive and I am her biggest fan. It’s going to be fun to progress as drivers together.”
There are two monobob events remaining this season; in La Plagne, France from March 2-8, and Lake Placid, N.Y. from March 30-April 3.
Please contact USABS Marketing & Communications Director Amanda Bird at 518-354-2250, or firstname.lastname@example.org, with media inquiries.
1. Karlien Sleper (NED) 1:49.20 (54.73, 54.47);
2. Ashleigh Werner (GBR) 1:50.38 (55.30, 55.08);
3. Vanessa D’Arpino (USA) 1:50.47 (54.89, 55.58);
4. Shelby Williamson (USA) 1:51.00 (55.42, 55.58);
6. Lake Kwaza (USA) 1:51.38 (55.67, 55.71);
1. Karlien Sleper (NED) 1:56.63 (57.36, 59.27);
2. Vanessa D’Arpino (USA) 1:58.99 (57.99, 1:01.00);
3. Marina Silva Tuono (BRA) 1:59.39 (58.44, 1:00.95);
5. Lake Kwaza (USA) 1:59.78 (58.67, 1:01.11);
6. Shelby Williamson (USA) 2:00.29 (59.48, 1:00.81);
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, Omaze, 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.