Team trials wrap up at the UOP
The U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton 2007-08 World Cup Team was announced following the conclusion of the final National Team Trials race at the Utah Olympic Park on Saturday. Points from competitions held on both the Lake Placid, N.Y. and Park City tracks were combined to determine the teams.
Headlining the U.S. men’s bobsled team is hometown favorite, 2007 World Cup Champion Steven Holcomb of Park City who will defend his title on the World Cup circuit with the help of his team: Pavle Jovanovic (Tom’s River, N.J.), Brock Kreitzburg (Akron, Ohio), Steve Mesler (Houston, Texas) and Curt Tomasevicz (Shelby, Neb.).
Joining Holcomb will be team USA 2 driver Mike Kohn (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) with push athletes Jamie Moriarty (Winnetka, Ill.), TJ Burns (Blue Bell, Pa.) and Steve Langton (Melrose, Mass.), along with fellow Parkite, team USA 3 driver Stephan Bosch and his crew of Chris Fogt (Orem, Utah), Theron Johnson (Wheaton, Md.) and Tim O’Mara (Salt Lake City, Utah).
"Mike came out on top in both the two-man and four-man competition during trials, so he earned the second sled position," men’s bobsled head coach Brian Shimer said. "I expect us to go in and win all three World Cup races in North America. We have high hopes going into the first half of the season with victories in every race, but we have three strong teams."
Kohn’s team won the final four-man race with the two fastest push times of the day, a 4.89 and 4.93, and the two fastest finish times of the day, 48.24 and 48.40, for a combined time of 1:36.64.
In second was Bosch’s team with a total time of 1:37.12 after runs of 48.41 and 48.71.
"It was good," Bosch said. "We got a good group."
John Napier (Schenectady, N.Y.) finished third with his team of Justin Olsen (San Antonio, Texas), Ethan Albrecht-Carrie (Wheatfield, N.Y.) and Jacob Miller (Waterford, Va.) with a combined time of 1:37.17 (48.66, 48.51).
Joining 2006 Olympic silver medalists Shauna Rohbock (Orem, Utah) and Valerie Fleming (Foster City, Calif.) on the 2007-08 World Cup team will be Erin Pac (Farmington, Conn.), who made her World Cup debut last season.
"Shauna and Valerie finished last season ranked second overall in the world, so I expect them to be fighting for the top rank this year," women’s bobsled head coach Sepp Plozza said. "Erin slid very well on the North American tracks last season in the America’s Cup, and we should see top ten results for her on the World Cup circuit."
Pac dominated the National Team Trials race series, winning all five races. Pac and push athlete Elana Meyers (Fairburn, Ga.) had the two fastest starts of the competition today, a 5.39 and 5.41, and finished with an impressive 1.61 second lead over the field with a combined time of 1:41.69 (50.74, 50.95).
Drivers Jamia Jackson (Lake City, Fla.) and Bree Schaaf Boyer (Bremerton, Wash.) continued their tight battle for the second position after tying with a total time of 1:43.30. Jackson teamed with Michelle Rzepka (Novi, Mich.) for runs of 51.98 and 51.32, while Schaaf Boyer teamed with Emily Azevedo (Chico, Calif.) for times of 51.67 and 51.43.
Jackson will slide on the Europa Cup circuit with push athlete Jazmine Fenlator (Ewing, N.J.) for the first half of the 2007-08 season before joining the World Cup team in Europe for the second half of the season. Schaaf Boyer will continue to gain experience in the driver’s seat of a bobsled after having switched from the sport of skeleton by competing on the America’s Cup circuit this season.
"Jamia will get experience on the European tracks the first half, so that she can join the World Cup team on the same tracks during the second half of the season," Plozza said. "Bree will continue to learn and gain experience on the North American tracks."
The 2007-08 men’s skeleton World Cup team will showcase similar names to the 2006-07 team that helped claim 45 medals last season. World Championship silver medalist Eric Bernotas (Avondale, Pa.) will be teamed with 2007 World Cup Champion Zach Lund of Salt Lake and World Cup medalist Caleb Smith (Lake Placid, N.Y.). Lund and Smith elected not to race Saturday after securing their World Cup positions in Friday’s competition.
"I’ve never before wrapped it up before the final day," Lund said. "It’s nice to have some breathing room."
Matt Antoine (Prairie du Chien, Wis.) won today’s competition after sliding the fastest finish time of the day in the second heat, a 50.50. Combined with his first heat time of 50.90, Antoine put himself in the lead by 0.12 seconds with a total time of 1:41.40.
In second was Kyle Tress (Trenton, N.J.), who again dominated the start with push times of 4.73 and 4.74. Tress finished in 1:41.52 after runs of 50.84 and 50.68. Stokes Aitken (Salt Lake City, Utah) finished third with a combined time of 1:41.61 (50.79, 50.82).
2007 World Cup Champion Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) will look to secure another World title this season in women’s skeleton. Joining Uhlaender will be World Cup athlete Courtney Yamada (Boise, Idaho), who finished the 2006-07 season ranked fourth overall, just three points away from third.
2007 America’s Cup Champion Annie O’Shea (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.) edged out Keslie Tomlinson (Potomac Falls, Va.) for the third World Cup spot today by winning the final National Team Trials race in 1:43.38 after runs of 51.86 and 51.52, putting her nearly eight-tenths ahead of the field and ten points in front of Tomlinson.
"I’m so excited, I’m just so excited, that’s the only thing coming out of my mouth," O’Shea said. "I knew I had to go out and race well today in order to make that final World Cup spot, so I’m really happy that I was able to stay focused and relaxed. I’m ready for the World Cup. I think Katie, Courtney and I will race well and have fun doing it."
Yamada finished the final race in second after runs of 51.92 and 52.19 for a combined time of 1:44.11. Tomlinson was 0.20 seconds behind Yamada for a third-place finish with a total time of 1:44.39 (52.24, 52.15).
The 2007 Bobsled and Skeleton World Cup season will kick off in Calgary, Alberta on Nov. 26. The team will return to the Utah Olympic Park track Dec. 3-8 for the second stop on the World Cup tour. Visit http://www.usbsf.com for more information.
-Adia Waldburger contributed to this report.
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