Hurley, Miter win push titles
Kristen Hurley (Columbia, Conn.) and Jake Miter (Troy, N.Y.) were awarded the 2015 USA National Skeleton Push Championship titles in Lake Placid, New York, on Sept. 26. Athletes were given two runs on the wheeled push track at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, and the competitor with the lowest combined time was declared the winner in his/her respective division.
"I’m really excited about this season based on what we saw this week," said USA Skeleton Head Coach Tuffy Latour. "Everyone is working together and creating a positive environment, and it’s great to see. The veterans and rookies are working together and helping each other step it up another notch."
Just the previous weekend, Hurley had finished seventh at the USA Bobsled National Push Championships. She began sliding bobsled and skeleton last season and said her first run in a bobsled was a blast, but "it felt like riding a rollercoaster that went off the tracks." The Gardner-Webb University graduate topped the field by 0.18 seconds on Sept. 26 with a total time of 7.90, after clocking pushes of 3.94 and 3.96 seconds.
National team competitor Kellie Delka (Denton, Texas) posted a two-run combined time of 8.08 after pushing identical starts of 4.04 seconds. Kelly Curtis (Princeton, N.J.), who has dabbled in both bobsled and skeleton, finished third with a total time of 8.10 seconds (4.07, 4.03). Curtis was cleared just last week after a long recovery following an injury this offseason that broke both of her arms.
Bobsled-pilot-turned-skeleton athlete Katelyn Kelly (Orchard Park, N.Y.) was fourth in 8.13 seconds, and women’s defending champion Gracie Clapp-Taylor (Saint Johns, Fla.) finished fifth.
"We’ve started introducing new athletes to both bobsled and skeleton and then figuring out what works best for them," Latour said. "The model has been working. Kristen came up last season to learn skeleton and Kelly spent a few weeks on a skeleton sled before she really impressed us at nationals last spring. It’s great seeing these newer athletes working hard, and equally as great to see competitors like Kellie pushing hard and getting even better."
Miter finished 0.06 seconds ahead of the men’s field with a total time of 7.15 seconds to claim his first national title. Miter clocked runs of 3.61 and 3.54 seconds, fastest in both heats. The Castleton State College graduate tried skeleton for the first time at age 16 and continued on and off while in high school and college. Miter completed his degree requirements a semester early in order to commit full time to skeleton in 2013.
"It felt good to come out and push well today," Miter said. "It’s a testament to the work the strength and conditioning staff here put in all summer to getting us ready for the season."
Miter said this was a challenging week after losing a close family member, his great-uncle Mike Harrison.
"He was a one-of-a-kind man and I’m happy I could give my best effort today for him," Miter said.
Kyle Brown (Concord, N.H.), who made his World Cup debut last season, tied Miter in the first heat with a run of 3.61 seconds. He finished as the runner-up after a second run of 3.60 seconds for a total of 7.21. National team competitor Alex Ivanov (Carlisle, Mass.) finished third in 7.26 seconds.
Anthony Watson (Vineland, N.J.) was fourth in 7.38 seconds, and Mike Strahler (Marshall, N.C.) finished fifth.
Skeleton team selections begin in Lake Placid next month with on-ice racing Oct. 26-27. Selections will continue in Park City Nov. 5-6 before the national team is named.
The Park City High School girls golf team took second in the Class 4A state championship tournament on Thursday. It was the team’s fifth consecutive time as runner-up.