Skeleton champions crowned
March 29, 2016
Annie O’Shea (Port Jefferson Station, New York) and Matt Antoine (Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin) were victorious in the 2015-2016 season finale, winning their respective USA Skeleton National Championships titles at Mount Van Hoevenberg Friday.
"The program is growing year after year," said Tuffy Latour, USA Skeleton head coach. "We have a great partnership with the Olympic Regional Development Authority and the Utah Olympic Park for our development programs. Annie and Matt didn’t leave anything behind and finished up the season strong, and our emerging athletes challenged the veterans. It was a great end to the season and I’m looking forward to seeing what these athletes can do next year."
O’Shea finished the World Cup season ranked fourth after winning two World Cup medals, including her first career victory, and posting five top-10 finishes. O’Shea already had the 2011 and 2013 national titles in the bank, but after a rollercoaster few years she was eager to reclaim the rights as USA Skeleton National Champion.
"It feels really nice to win another national championship," O’Shea said. "This is my third title and it’s been a few years since I’ve won one. I’ve had some difficult years and to end with this after my best season I’ve had so far, I really couldn’t be happier."
O’Shea expanded her half-second lead from Thursday to convincingly take the title by 1.63 seconds. She clocked runs of 57.83 and 56.92 seconds for a four-run combined time of 3:46.53.
"It really sets me up with a good feeling for the offseason," O’Shea said. "I have some great summer plans and I’m really excited. We have a really great team dynamic and I think that will continue to grow through our team camp this summer and into next season. I’m really excited for that and to be supportive of everyone and be that ‘one team’ mentality that stuck this year."
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Savannah Graybill (Denver, Pennsylvania) was runner-up with a combined time of 3:48.16. Kendall Wesenberg (Modesto, California) rallied back to claim bronze in 3:49.82.
Veronica Day (Vienna, Virginia) finished fourth in 3:50.41. Morgan Tracey (Champion, Ohio) was fifth in 3:52.56 and Kellie Delka (Collinsville, Texas) clocked a total time of 3:53.97 for sixth.
Antoine made some equipment adjustments overnight and came back Friday to further his lead in the men’s field. The 2014 Olympic bronze medalist clocked runs of 56.27 and 55.65 seconds, again fastest of the field, for a four-run combined time of 3:41.08. He claimed his fifth career national championship title by 0.63 seconds.
"I made some changes to my equipment today; I wasn’t too pleased yesterday with how things went," Antoine said. "Last night I broke the sled down, made changes inside the sled and my runners, and I was happier with my equipment setup going into today, more confident with it. My runs today still weren’t the best. I really struggled these last couple days with being consistent and getting the speed."
Antoine said he’s disappointed with his season results and was pleased to cap the season with a win.
"I’m a little upset at myself with how I actually performed, but I feel fortunate to still have walked away as national champion," Antoine said. "This being my fifth national championship, it’s a good feeling. It’s a great way to end the season. It’s been a tough season for me, but I’m happy to come back to Lake Placid and that I was able to pull that off, but I’m looking forward to putting the season in the rearview mirror and starting over next year."
Kyle Brown (Concord, New Hampshire) maintained second position to secure the silver medal in 3:41.71. Nathan Crumpton (Park City) was third in 3:42.69.
Alex Ivanov (Carlisle, Massachusetts) finished fourth with a total time of 3:44.04. Kyle Tress (Ewing, New Jersey) was fifth in 3:44.68 and Greg West (Springfield, Missouri) was sixth in 3:45.20.