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Young American men’s skeleton team struggles with nuances of Winterberg
WINTERBERG, Germany (Jan. 5, 2020)– It was a tough start to the New Year for the Americans in today’s men’s skeleton World Cup race in Winterberg. Austin Florian (Southington, Conn.) was the highest U.S. finisher in 18th, while Andrew Blaser (Meridian, Idaho) and Alex Ivanov (Carlisle, Mass.) finished 22nd and 27th, respectively.
“These three athletes lack experience, so we’re going to see weeks of learning, but not the execution yet,” said USA Skeleton Technical and Development Lead Coach Caleb Smith. “We’ll have a debrief and set goals that are relative to their experience. It’s important to remind them of the big picture. You have to zoom out and step away from your own internal thought process in order to appreciate what was learned this week, and they will all come back stronger next time they compete in Winterberg.”
Florian clocked a start time of 5.08 seconds for the 18th best time of 57.57 seconds in the first heat. He bettered his start to 5.05 in the final heat, and despite a faster run of 57.30 seconds, Florian was unable to gain any spots with a combined time of 1:54.87.
Smith said Winterberg requires a lot of subtle movements, which is something the young American men’s team is still learning. This is Florian’s 10th World Cup start, and only the third World Cup start for Blaser and Ivanov.
Blaser pushed off the start ramp in 5.07 seconds and was on track for a fast run, but he exited the labyrinth late and bounced out of the corner, losing the speed he’d built. He crossed the finish line in 57.85 seconds for 22nd place. Only the top-20 competitors after the first heat qualify for the final run.
Ivanov had a nice looking run without any major errors, but the World Cup rookie couldn’t find speed. He finished 27th with a time of 58.15 seconds.
There were no Germans in the top three after the first heat, but Alexander Gassner and Axel Jungk threaded together nearly flawless second runs to move into the medals. Jungk moved from fifth into bronze medal position with a total time of 1:53.03, while Gassner went from fourth to second with a combined time of 1:52.53. Reigning Olympic champion Sungbin Yun of Korea held onto his lead and was victorious by a narrow margin of 0.05 seconds with a total time of 1:52.95.
Latvian Martins Dukurs was in third place, but fell back into fourth. Korean Jisoo Kim was in second place behind his teammate, and he ultimately finished sixth with just the 11th best time of the final heat. His former best World Cup finish was seventh in the 2017 Igls, Austria race.
Racing continues today with the women’s skeleton competition at 2 p.m. local time. NBC Sports and Olympic Channel will have broadcast and digital streaming coverage of the IBSF Bobsled & Skeleton World Cup in Winterberg. Fans can catch all the action in spectacular high definition via NBC Sports online at NBCSports.com/Live, or through the NBC Sports app. Additional coverage will be available on OlympicChannel.com and the Olympic Channel app.
Please contact USABS Marketing & Communications Director Amanda Bird at 518-354-2250, or email@example.com, with media inquiries.
1. Sungbin Yun (KOR) 1:52.95 (56.36, 56.59);
2. Alexander Gassner (GER) 1:52.53 (56.62, 56.38);
3. Axel Jungk (GER) 1:53.03 (56.63, 56.40);
18. Austin Florian (USA) 1:54.87 (57.57, 57.30);
22. Andrew Blaser (USA) (57.85, DNS);
27. Alex Ivanov (USA) (58.15, DNS):
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