Nathan Crumpton turns in best-ever finish
After a great weekend in Lake Placid, New York Jan. 8-9 in which it earned three gold medals, the USA Bobsled and Skeleton Team had much less success at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City this past weekend, managing only a single medal — a bronze — in women’s two-man bobsled.
But, despite the team’s struggles, there were still some noteworthy results, especially in skeleton. Nathan Crumpton, a 30-year-old slider who lives and trains in Park City, had his personal-best day.
In his first year on the World Cup tour, Crumpton has struggled to move up the leaderboard. But, racing on his home track Saturday afternoon, he put together two of his best runs to wind up in fifth place by the time the final slider had crossed the finish line. It was by far his best finish in a World Cup race.
"I had an 18th [place finish] in Winterberg [Germany], so this is a huge jump for me," he said. "I did not get to race the home race in Lake Placid last week, unfortunately, but I’m glad I was able to put it together this week on my home track and have the finish that I did. I’m shocked right now. This is overwhelming, really."
Crumpton’s two runs totaled 1 minute, 39.32 seconds and he finished one spot behind U.S. teammate Matt Antoine, who’s two runs took 1:39.18. Latvian Martins Dukurs won the race in 1:38:35. South Korea’s Sungbin Yun was second in 1:38:73 and Germany’s Alex Jungk finished third in 1:39.05.
With intermittent snow falling on the track for a large portion of the two racing days, conditions were variable as the track crew worked feverishly to do all it could to make the races as fair as possible. Crumpton said the Utah Olympic Park track was fine — it was the weather that made things difficult for a number of racers.
"The snow always adds an unpredictable element to it and I didn’t know how the weather was going to shape up," he said. "I think in my first run I got a little bit of the bad end of that stick and was slowed down a little bit by the weather. But, luckily enough, I put together two solid runs and was able to hold onto it."
One of the highlights of Crumpton’s fifth-place finish was that he finished one spot ahead of Latvian Tomass Dukurs, who Crumpton admires greatly.
"Overtaking Tomass Dukurs, who has been one of the best in the world for years, it’s really shocking," he said. "I did not expect that."
Another highlight for Crumpton, who moved to Park City in 2012, was racing in front of a hometown crowd.
"I had plenty of friends and family out here today and it was a really great experience," he said. "I’m glad they could come and see it."
Though he said having his friends and family watching was fun, it also made him anxious before the race.
"It actually ups the pressure a little bit and makes me a little bit more nervous," he said. "I just try to put it out of mind, but it’s great to have the support after the race and before the race. I’m very lucky in that regard."
Earlier Saturday afternoon, the U.S. women’s skeleton athletes had their own 4-5 finish with Annie O’Shea (1:41.92) finishing fourth and Kendall Wesenberg (1:41.95) finishing fifth. Tina Hermann of Germany won the race in 1:41.08, with Canada’s Jane Channell (1:41.49) and Austria’s Janine Flock (1:41.58) finishing second and third, respectively.
Crumpton will now look to build on his Park City success when the team travels to Whistler, Canada, for competitions Jan. 22 and 23.
"I love the Whistler track — it’s very technical, very fast, very challenging," he said. "I’m certainly the most comfortable here in Park City because this is where I call home, but Whistler, of any international track, is, I would say, my second home."
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Park City dominated East in a sweep on Tuesday night to improve to 3-3 on the season and 3-0 in region play.