Getting on the right track
November 9, 2010
Parkite Kimber Gabryszak needed a perfect storm, and boy, did she get one.
This past weekend, the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation announced its roster for the 2010-2011 World Cup skeleton squad after a set of races at the Utah Olympic Park.
Gabryszak was returning to her home track to sled in the final two rounds of the selection races in hopes of qualifying for the World Cup circuit. After the first two races, which had been held in Lake Placid, N.Y., Gabryszak was in fourth place heading back to Utah.
If she was going to qualify, she was going to need to inch her way in to the top two to qualify for the World Cup.
"I just went into this weekend knowing that if I had a great race I could close the gap," Gabryszak said.
Gabryszak knew she needed to just forget about her "hard" races in Lake Placid, the flu bug she had been fighting off and just jump on the sled and fly down the hill.
Recommended Stories For You
On Friday night, she came in second place.
"I did show that I could slide well and it took a lot of pressure off," she said.
On Saturday night, she took first, but still stood in third place overall.
Two-time America’s Cup winner Annie O’Shea finished first in the national point ranking in the four-round set, and seasoned veteran Rebecca Sorenson had the second of two certified spots for the World Cup team locked up.
Then, following the race Saturday, Sorenson abruptly decided to take a year off and focus on coaching alongside head coach Tuffy Latour.
"We are excited to have Rebecca on our coaching staff," Latour said. "She’s one of our most skilled sliders, and our rookie athletes will benefit under her guidance."
Sorenson will continue to slide with the team, and will eventually compete for a spot on the team once next season’s circuit comes around.
Suddenly, Gabryszak was in the No. 2 slot, and had her ticket to the World Cup roster.
"I made a game-day decision to just go for it," said Gabryszak referring to her first ever win in trials.
The star of the weekend was Gabryszak as her unprecedented rise to a top-two spot panned out for the former mountain bike racer.
"I’m kind of an adrenaline junkie," she said.
The Alaska native moved to Park City five years ago and just took up Skeleton for, as she says, "the fun of it."
When asked what her ultimate goal is, Gabryszak couldn’t help but venture to the topic that most dream of, and few accomplish becoming an Olympic athlete.
"I’ve always been hesitant when talking about the Olympics," she said. "I don’t want to jinx anything."
No need to worry about a jinx if you’re someone who just rode out of a perfect storm.
The three athletes chosen to represent the U.S. men’s team are 2008 Intercontinental Cup Champion Matt Antoine (Prairie du Chien, Wis.), 2010 Olympian John Daly (Smithtown, N.Y.) 2006 and 2010 Olympian Eric Bernotas (Avondale, Pa.).
On Monday morning, the USBSF announced three more squads consisting of the Intercontinental Cup team, Europa Cup team and America’s Cup team.
The Europa squad features a couple locals in Brad Stewart and Abby Von Kelsch. Friday night, Stewart was pleased with returning to his home track and was impressed with the overall effort by his teammates.
"I’m just looking to slide consistently and just have good runs," he said. "But as much as we’re competing against each other, all you can do is your own run and focus on that."
The team selected for America’s Cup races features Utahns Austin Carter (Sandy), Nick Vienneau (Salt Lake City), Chad Omweg (Park City), Matt Griff (Salt Lake City) and Jessica Palmer (Roy).