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Gabryszak top North American in shortened St. Moritz race
ST. MORITZ, Switzerland (January 20, 2012)–Snow began to fall early in the women’s skeleton World Cup race in St. Moritz, leading to the cancellation of the second heat for yet another shortened race this season. Despite the inclement weather, it was a good day for Kimber Gabryszak (Park City, Utah), who posted a career best seventh place finish and inched closer to qualifying three U.S. sleds in World Championships.
“We made up ground today in catching up to the third Russian sled,” said Tuffy Latour, skeleton head coach. “Our goal is to qualify three sleds at World Championships, and Kimber is now just 10 points from being able to do that.”
Despite what Latour described as “big time snow,” Gabryszak was in the mix right off the block with a 5.61 start time. She continued to gained time down the track to clock 1:13.12, seventh best of the heat.
“The weather just hasn’t cooperated with us this season, with more runs canceled than not,” Gabryszak said. “I knew that I needed to push fast and then just relax and let the sled run. Obviously I’m pretty excited about the result. Not only was it my first top 10, but I was also only one spot from the top six.”
Today’s result was a breakthrough for Gabryszak. Her best finish leading up to today’s race was 14th in Altenberg, Germany earlier this month.
“This track is amazing,” Gabryszak said. “Since it was my first time here, I just focused on having a good time and enjoying the experience. I’m grateful to the coaches and my teammates for all the help learning the track.”
British athlete Elizabeth Yarnold made her World Cup debut just last week and shocked the field by winning today’s race. The Intercontinental Cup leader was the only athlete to finish below 72 seconds after posting a track record of 1:11.93 for the victory.
Yarnold’s teammate Shelley Rudman was second off the block this morning and her finish time of 1:12.18 held up to all but one of the 26 competitors to earn the silver medal. Germany’s Katharina Heinz finished in 1:12.22 for third.
Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) and Annie O’Shea (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.) struggled in the snow and could only muster 13th and 18th place, respectively.
“I’m very happy for Kimber, because her result gives us a good shot at keeping three sleds for World Championships,” Uhlaender said. “However, this is the fourth race in a row in Europe that it has snowed. I can’t seem to catch a break in my draw with the snow.”
Uhlaender is the 2007 World Championship bronze medalist in St. Moritz and was a favorite leading into this weekend, but her first run of 1:13.72 was 1.79 seconds from the lead.
“I hear North America is having a poor snow and ski season, and I’m actually happy to hear that,” Uhlaender said. “I look forward to a race with good weather and two heats when we return next week.”
O’Shea pushed off the starting block in 5.43 seconds to set this season’s start record, but a skid at the top in the snow cost her much needed time down the course. She fell into 18th position with a finish time of 1:14.28 for a bittersweet finish.
“It was really a roll of the dice today,” Latour said. “Annie got an award for setting the start record, but she’s really disappointed with her finish. It seems like the snow is letting up a little bit, so we’ll see what happens the rest of the weekend.”
Women’s bobsled is scheduled to race this afternoon, but the jury may delay the start time due to the weather. Watch the St. Moritz events LIVE by visiting www.fibt.com. Universal Sports will also broadcast the events with commentary and interviews on one-week delay. Programs will air Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at 6 pm EST.
For media inquiries, please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (518) 354-2250.
1. Elizabeth Yarnold (GBR) 1:11.93; 2. Shelley Rudman (GBR) 1:12.18; 3. Katharina Heinz (GER) 1:12.22;…7. Kimber Gabryszak (USA) 1:13.12;….13. Katie Uhlaender (USA) 1:13.72;…18. Annie O’Shea (USA) 1:14.28;
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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: BMW of North America, Under Armour, United States National Guard, Kampgrounds of America, National Strength and Conditioning Association, Vivat!, Global Forwarding, KBC Helmets, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, EDAS/Ripxx, UberSense, Tesa Tape and Ferris Mfg. Corp. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at http://bobsled.teamusa.org.