WINTERBERG, Germany-John Daly (Smithtown, N.Y.) posted two top-six performances in the men's skeleton Europa Cup finale in Winterberg, Germany last week. Audrey Thompson (Phoenix, Ariz.) was the highest U.S. finisher in the women's skeleton field, finishing just outside of the top ten in both races. Two races were held over two days on Friday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Jan. 26 to close the 2007-08 Europa Cup season."I am really proud of how our team performed over two days of very competitive racing,"said Marci Francis, U.S. Europa Cup coach."Our goal was for each of them to perform at their best on race day. They all rose to the occasion and slid their fastest times when the pressure was on. As a coach, you can't ask for anything more than that."On Friday, Jan. 25, Daly finished just 0.05 seconds from the bronze with a fourth place finish, despite having difficulties at the start."John Daly's fourth place finish in the first race was incredibly impressive since he popped the groove on his first run,"Francis said."He was able to maintain his focus and was still in the mix for the medals."Daly pushed start time of 5.23 seconds for a first run time of 59.30, fourth fastest of the heat. In the second heat, Daly pushed a faster start time of 5.19 seconds, maintaining his fourth place position with a finish time of 59.18 seconds. Daly slid a two-run total of 1:58.48, just 0.05 seconds away from denying the Germans a sweep of the podium on their home track. The Germans swept the first men's skeleton competition. Alexander Gaszner claimed gold with the two fastest times of the day, 58.89 and 58.74, for a total time of 1:57.63. David Ludwig finished 0.18 seconds behind his teammate for the silver with a combined time of 1:57.81 after sliding runs of 58.98 and 58.83. Finishing just ahead of the American, Steffen Rothacker took bronze with a combined time of 1:58.43 (59.54, 58.89). Yann Michael Gerent-Paquet from France pushed a 5.06 start time in the first heat, fastest of the competition. Nick Vienneau (Salt Lake City, Utah) finished 27th on Friday after pushing a start time of 5.20 seconds for a run of 1:00.93. Only the top 20 sleds are given a second run. On Saturday, Jan. 26, Daly slid to a second top-six performance, finishing sixth with a combined time of 2:00.68. The young American pushed start times of 5.27 and 5.15 for runs of 1:00.18 and 1:00.50, respectively. David Ludwig from Germany claimed gold on Saturday with a total time of 1:59.25 after runs of 59.46, fastest of the day, and 59.79. Russia's Sergei Chudnov denied the Germans a sweep of the podium in the second competition by taking silver with a combined time of 1:59.50. Chudnov burst off the starting block with start times of 5.07 and 5.03 for runs of 59.83 and 59.67, respectively. Gaszner, who won Friday's race, finished third with a two-run total of 1:59.81 (59.47, 1:00.34). Vienneau finished 25th on Saturday after pushing a start time of 5.16 seconds for a finish time of 1:02.04. Daly finished the 2007-08 Europa Cup season ranked fifth with 183 points. Gaszner won the title with 391 points, with German teammate Ludwig in second with 309 points. Sergey Smirnov from Russia finished third overall with 245 points."Even though Daly missed some Europa Cup races, his strong performances allowed him to finish fifth in overall standings against some very competitive sliders,"Francis said."What we saw out of him these past few weeks is just the tip of the iceberg. Not only does he have an amazing start and technical skills down the track, but I personally think his biggest asset is his determination and positive attitude."In the women's competition held on Friday, Jan. 25, Thompson finished 11th as the highest U.S. finisher. Thompson pushed a 6.37 second start time, and then drove up 11 positions into tenth after the first run with a time of 1:01.74. Sliding a second run time of 1:01.85, Thompson finished 11th, 0.20 seconds from the top ten. Elana Yudina from Russia claimed gold with a total time of 2:01.17 after sliding runs of 1:00.36 and 1:00.81. Joska Le Conte from the Netherlands, who began sliding only one year ago, took silver after runs of 1:00.75 and 1:00.43 for a total time of 2:01.18. Home track competitor Katharina Hamman slid to a bronze medal finish with a two-run total of 2:01.65 (1:00.78, 1:00.87). Great Britain's Sarah Elisabeth Sydney pushed the fastest start time of the competition of 5.41 seconds. Kelly Magnuson (Springfield, Ore.) finished 20th after runs of 1:03.97 and 1:04.15 for a total time of 2:02.12. Magnuson pushed a 5.92 and 5.93 in the two-heat race. Thompson finished 12th in the second women's skeleton competition on Saturday, Jan. 26 with a combined time of 2:04.90. Thompson pushed a 6.38 and 6.32 in the two-heat race, finishing with the 12th fastest time of both runs, a 1:02.43 and 1:02.47. Yudina claimed her second gold medal of the week, finishing with a combined time of 2:02.06 after runs of 1:00.63 and 1:01.43. Janine Flock from Austria slid to a silver medal finish with a total time of 2:02.34 (1:00.98, 1:01.36). Hamann repeated Friday's bronze medal performance, sliding a combined time of 2:02.60 after runs of 1:01.13 and 1:01.47 for third. Magnuson finished 20th after runs of 1:04.11 and 1:05.20 for a total time of 2:09.31. After sliding only three Europa Cup competitions, Thompson finished the 2007-08 season ranked 19th with 103 points. Bella Sterlikova claimed the title with 317 points, with Germany's Hamann in second with 305 and Russia's Yudina in third with 264. For complete results of today's race, visit www.bobsleigh.com, the Web site of the Federation International de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganning (FIBT). Results: Men's Skeleton #1
1. Alexander Gaszner (GER) 1:57.63 (58.89, 58.74); 2. David Ludwig (GER) 1:57.81 (58.98, 58.83); 4. Steffen Rothacker (GER) 1:58.43 (59.54, 58.89); 4. John Daly (USA) 1:58.48 (59.30, 59.18);_27. Nick Vienneau (USA) (1:00.93, DNS); Men's Skeleton #2
1. David Ludwig (GER) 1:59.25 (59.46, 59.79); 2. Sergei Chudinov (RUS) 1:59.50 (59.83, 59.67); 3. Alexander Gaszner (GER) 1:59.50 (59.83, 59.67);_6. John Daly (USA) 2:00.68 (1:00.18, 1:00.50);_25. Nick Vienneau (USA) (1:02.04, DNS); Women's Skeleton #1
1. Elena Yudina (RUS) 2:01.17 (1:00.36, 1:00.81); 2. Joska Le Conte (NED) 2:01.18 (1:00.75, 1:00.43); 3. Katharina Hamann (GER) 2:01.65 (1:00.78, 1:00.87);_11. Audrey Thompson (USA) 2:03.59 (1:01.74, 1:01.85);_ 20. Kelly Magnuson (USA) 2:08.12 (1:03.97, 1:04.15); Women's Skeleton #2
1. Elana Yudina (RUS) 2:02.06 (1:00.63, 1:01.43); 2. Janine Flock (AUT) 2:02.34 (1:00.98, 1:01.36); 3. Katharina Hamann (GER) 2:02.60 (1:01.13, 1:01.47);_12. Audrey Thompson (USA) 2:04.90 (1:02.43, 1:02.47);_20. Kelly Magnuson (USA) 2:09.31 (1:04.11, 1:05.20); About the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation
The United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. The USBSF would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: Allianz Life, Columbia Sportswear Company, Speedo, CW-X, KBC Helmets, ULU Boots, Racing Electronics, Schenker Logistics, Lumber Liquidators and Whelen Engineering. For more information, please visit the USBSF Web site at www.usbsf.com.