Contact: Amanda Bird, USABS Marketing and Communications Director
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Daly and Henry win first USA Skeleton selection races
Lake Placid, N.Y. (November 20, 2020)- Stepping out of retirement for the second time in his career, John Daly (Smithtown, N.Y.) is back on track to secure a spot on the men’s USA Skeleton national team after winning the first of two selection races today. Austin Florian (Southington, Conn.) and Andrew Blaser (Meridian, Idaho) finished day one in second and third place, respectively. Megan Henry (Roxbury, Conn.) was today’s leader in the women’s race, followed by Kendall Wesenberg (Modesto, Calif.) in second and Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) in third.
There are three quota spots available for the women on both the World Cup and Intercontinental Cup teams. The men have two spots up for grabs on the World Cup team, and three on the Intercontinental Cup.
“Today was a great race, and we have to thank the Olympic Regional Development Authority for giving us outstanding ice conditions despite the warmer weather,” said USA Skeleton Head Coach Tuffy Latour. “It’s exciting to see our athletes racing again.”
In the men’s race, Daly pushed his 40 kg sled off the start in 5.01 seconds for the fastest run of 54.40 seconds in the opening heat. Florian was close behind, powering off the block in 4.80 seconds and holding the lead down the majority of the track before falling three-hundredths of a second behind Daly at the finish.
“These guys are fast, young, and still learning, and it’s a tough group,” Daly said. “There’s a bright future for this team.”
Daly widened the gap to 0.21 seconds in the second heat with a downtime of 54.70 seconds for a total of 1:49.10. Florian secured second place with a total time of 1:49.31 after sliding to the finish in 54.88 seconds in the second heat.
“I feel more confident, and I’m honestly sliding better than I ever have before,” Daly said. “I needed that break, and I feel refreshed and excited to be here.”
Third place was a battle between Blaser and Chris Strup (Defiance, Ohio). Strup was in third with a run of 54.84 seconds after the first heat, nine-hundredths ahead of Blaser. Blaser rallied back in the second heat to overtake Strup with a combined time of 1:50.19 to secure third. Strup finished fourth with a 1:50.24.
Austin McCrary (Colleyville, Texas) is currently in position for a national team spot in fifth with a time of 1:50.57.
Daly walked away from the sport after a disappointing 15th place finish at the 2014 Sochi Games, where he was in position to medal before popping the groove at the start in the fourth and final heat. He wanted to rewrite his Olympic script, and came back two years later to prepare for the 2018 PyeongChang Games. Daly finished 16th in PyeongChang, and he initially felt satisfied with an illustrious career that included more than medals, but lifelong friendships.
Three years later, Daly realized his story wasn’t done just yet.
“Things still felt unfinished,” Daly said. “I still want a shot at a medal. That’s why you come back– to win. Nothing makes me feel as alive as sliding does, and if I still have it in me to try one more time, I thought I might as well.
“This is also the best coaching staff this team has ever had. Matt Antoine and Caleb Smith know more about curve theory than anyone else, and it’s been really great working with those guys.”
In the women’s race, Henry took the lead in run one by 0.44 seconds by throwing down a run of 55.20. Four-time Olympian Uhlaender was the closest competitor with a 55.64, followed by Wesenberg with a 55.68.
“I love race day, because it brings the best out of everyone,” Henry said. “That first run felt really good.”
Despite having one of the heaviest sleds in the field, Henry powered off the start block with the fastest push time of 5.20 seconds in today’s final heat. She raced to the finish in 56.40 seconds to win day one with a combined time of 1:51.60.
“Second run I was a little out of position on my sled, but I just told myself to remain calm,” Henry said. “After yesterday we are super grateful to the track crew for putting together a nice track. The team trials group is smaller, but it’s super competitive, so it makes for an exciting competition to participate in and watch. It also means you have to step up.”
Wesenberg responded with the fastest time of 56.03 seconds in the final heat to move into second position with a total time of 1:51.71. Uhlaender fell back a spot into third with a two-run total of 1:52.01.
Savannah Graybill (Denver, Penn.) finished fourth in 1:52.15, followed by Sara Roderick (Truro, Mass.) in fifth with a 1:52.22, and Kelly Curtis (Princeton, N.J.) in sixth with a 1:52.47. Roderick posted the fastest start time of 5.20 seconds in the first heat.
Athletes have learned a lot about resiliency this season as 2020 has created obstacles like quarantine, strict Covid protocols, and canceled training sessions due to weather and minor track issues.
“Being adaptable has been the key phrase this year,” Henry said. “With fewer races and only one track, I set the intention to do my best no matter what the external circumstances. Racing isn’t over yet, but I am looking forward to resting up and coming back tomorrow and improving on a few areas.”
Skeleton racing continues tomorrow with another two-heat race. Please contact USABS Marketing & Communications Director Amanda Bird at 518-354-2250, or email@example.com, with media inquiries.
Race one results:
1. Megan Henry 1:51.60 (55.20, 56.40);
2. Kendall Wesenberg 1:51.71 (55.68, 56.03);
3. Katie Uhlaender 1:52.01 (55.64, 56.37);
4. Savannah Graybill 1:52.15 (56.00, 56.15);
5. Sara Roderick 1:52.22 (55.74, 56.48);
6. Kelly Curtis 1:52.47 (55.92, 56.55);
7. Mystique Ro 1:53.36 (56.64, 56.72);
1. John Daly 1:49.10 (54.40, 54.70);
2. Austin Florian 1:49.31 (54.43, 54.88);
3. Andrew Blaser 1:50.19 (54.93, 55.26);
4. Chris Strup 1:50.24 (54.84, 55.40);
5. Austin McCrary 1:50.57 (54.95, 55.62);
6. Alex Ivanov 1:50.79 (55.30, 55.49);
7. Steve Garbett 1:50.88 (55.30, 55.58);
8. Mike Rogals 1:50.97 (55.41, 55.56);
9. Dan Barefoot 1:51.64 (55.77, 55.87);
10. Hunter Williams 1:52.27 (55.99, 56.28);
11. Kyler Sultemeier 1:53.52 (56.80, 56.72);
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, Snap Fitness, Hammer Strength, and Boomerang Carnets. For more information, please visit the USABS website at www.usabs.com.