Contact: Amanda Bird, USABS Marketing and Communications Director
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Florian and Ro win titles at USA Skeleton National Push Championships, presented by Mananalu Water
Photo: USA Skeleton athletes celebrate top finishes
Lake Placid, N.Y. (September 28, 2021) – Austin Florian (Southington, Conn.) and Mystique Ro (Nokesville, Va.) won their respective USA Skeleton National Push Championship titles at the iced start facility at Mt. Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid today. Athletes competed in four heats over two days, and the winners were determined by the male and female athlete with the lowest combined time.
“It was really exciting to see both veterans and rookies step up and take spots in the top three,” said USA Skeleton Head Coach Tuffy Latour. “Competing for the first time in the new iced start house in Lake Placid was outstanding, and we’re incredibly grateful to the Olympic Regional Development Authority and New York State for providing these state-of-the-art facilities for our team. Thanks to Mananalu Water for sponsoring the event, and to Russ Collison for providing awards.”
Florian, who was recently named to the 2021-2022 USA Skeleton National Team, was 0.04 seconds off the pace set by rookie competitor Austin Hayes (London, Ky.) yesterday. Florian rallied back today to take over the lead by 0.05 seconds with a total time of 19.21 seconds. The veteran posted start times of 4.84 and 4.89 seconds yesterday, and 4.73 and 4.75 seconds today for the win.
“Competing in this new facility was amazing,” Florian said. “I’m so glad we finally have a world class facility to train at right in our own backyard. I feel even more prepared for this season than I have in years past and can’t wait to get back to sliding and racing again. I’m looking forward to the new talent that we have coming up. We certainly have some fast pushers and I can’t wait to see them start sliding and improving!”
Hayes is a graduate assistant cross-country/track and field coach at Mercer University. He began training for the sport of skeleton in March, and participated in a rookie camp in Lake Placid in August. The rookie posted start times of 4.83, 4.86, 4.85, and 4.72 seconds for a combined time of 19.26 seconds to take second place.
Darryl Payne Jr (San Antonio, Texas) clocked a four-run combined time of 19.51 seconds to finish third. Payne Jr was discovered on “Scouting Camp: The Next Olympic Hopeful” in 2017. He entered the competition with hopes of becoming a bobsledder, but he was recruited into skeleton based on his size. Payne Jr posted start times of 4.94, 4.93, 4.82, and 4.82 seconds over the two days.
In the women’s field, Ro was dominant and took the win with a cumulative time of 20.39 seconds. Ro began competing internationally during the 2017-2018 season and has since claimed seven medals on the North American Cup tour. She’s been well known on the international circuit for her start times, and Ro pushed times of 5.21, 5.18, 5.01, and 4.99 seconds to win the women’s title.
“The ice house has been a game changer in allowing us to get some quality reps in while focusing on certain aspects of the push,” Ro said. “It’s been a great way to get some momentum into the sliding season.”
Michelle Toukan (Central City, Neb.) was the closest competitor to Ro with a total time of 20.71 seconds after clocking starts of 5.25, 5.30, 5.09, and 5.07 seconds. Toukan has also competed since the 2017-2018 season, and has earned four medals at the North American Cup.
In third was Leah Fair (Gaffney, S.C.), who was discovered on “Scouting Camp: The Next Olympic Hopeful.” She competed in her first international competition in January 2021 in the Park City, Utah North American Cup, where she finished eighth. Fair clocked runs of 5.32, 5.44, 5.07, and 5.09 seconds for a four-run combined time of 20.92 seconds.
“Push championships don’t have a bearing on skeleton team selection, but it’s a great opportunity for us as coaches to gather data on the new facility, and for the athletes to gauge where they are with their training going into the season,” Latour said. “We are looking forward to seeing how all of these athletes develop over this year.”
Skeleton athletes that were selected to compete on the World Cup team depart this week for the Beijing test event to kick off the international competitive sliding season. The World Cup, Intercontinental Cup, North American Cup, European Cup tours will all begin in early November.
Please contact USABS Marketing & Communications Director Amanda Bird at 518-354-2250, or email@example.com, for more information.
1. Mystique Ro 20.39 (5.21, 5.18, 5.01, 4.99);
2. Michelle Toukan 20.71 (5.25, 5.30, 5.09, 5.07);
3. Leah Fair 20.92 (5.32, 5.44, 5.07, 5.09);
4. Erin Brumley 21.96 (5.62, 5.64, 5.39, 5.31);
4. AJ Andrews 21.96 (5.61, 5.63, 5.36, 5.36);
6. Isabella Burns 22.14 (5.62, 5.64, 5.39, 5.49);
7. Logan Wudi 22.51 (5.73, 5.575, 5.49, 5.54);
8. Chloe Peterson 22.56 (5.75, 5.80, 5.50, 5.51);
9. Meaghan Rogers 22.80 (5.76, 5.81, 5.62, 5.61);
1. Austin Florian 19.21 (4.84, 4.89, 4.73, 4.75);
2. Austin Hayes 19.26 (4.83, 4.86, 485, 4.72);
3. Darryl Payne Jr 19.51 (4.94, 4.93, 4.82, 4.82);
4. Andy St. Fleur 19.56 (4.99, 5.06, 4.73, 4.78);
5. Dan Barefoot 19.67 (4.97, 4.95, 4.90, 4.85);
5. Nicholas Taylor 19.67 (5.05, 4.99, 4.87, 4.76);
7. Hunter Williams 19.99 (5.05, 5.10, 4.93, 4.91);
8. Stephen Garbett 20.14 (5.12, 5.10, 4.93, 4.99);
9. Bradley Nicol 20.18 (5.09, 5.09, 4.98, 5.02);
10. Lukas Kissell 20.42 (5.16, 5.13, 5.05, 5.08);
11. Nicholas Brooks 20.45 (5.17, 5.19, 5.07, 5.02);
12. Mike Rogals 20.50 (5.22, 5.25, 5.02, 5.01);
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. For more information, please visit the USABS website at www.usabs.com. Individuals interested in becoming a bobsled or skeleton athlete can visit www.usabobsledskeleton.com.