U.S. men’s skeleton team qualifies for final; Daly in medal hunt
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (Nov. 8, 2012)- John Daly (Smithtown, N.Y.) is in fourth position after the first two heats of the men’s skeleton World Cup opener in Lake Placid, N.Y. Only the top 10 ranked athletes in today’s runs qualified for tomorrow’s final in the international federation’s new three-heat format. Daly’s teammates Kyle Tress (Ewing, N.J.) and Matt Antoine (Prairie du Chien, Wisc.) will also be in the hunt for a podium finish after finishing seventh and ninth today.
“Having all three of us in the top ten is such an advantage for the draw, because we don’t have to worry about weather in the top seed,” Daly said. “We couldn’t have started the season off better than that.”
After sweeping the U.S. national team selection races, Daly was eager to carry momentum into the international competitive season. The 2010 Olympian forgot his start bib in last season’s World Cup opener, which resulted in a disqualification that was just the start to a series or roadblocks throughout the year. Eager to start over, Daly feels like the men’s team is on the right track.
“I wore my bib, I even checked as soon as I got to the bottom,” Daly said. “There were four or five people that came up to me and ripped open my jacket to make sure it was there. I thought it was a bad dream [last season], and I’ve been waiting to wake up- it’s about a year later. I couldn’t wait for this season to come around after that first race last year.”
Daly was in fifth position with a run of 54.39 seconds after the first heat, but he gained a spot when Germany’s Frank Rommel was disqualified for being overweight. He maintained his position with a second run of 54.34 seconds and enters the final in fourth with a total time of 1:48.73.
Latvian Martins Dukurs seems to be unbeatable again this season, but Alexander Tretiakov is closing the gap. Dukurs posted a total time of 1:47.71, and Tretiakov trails by just 0.01 seconds. Martins’ brother, Tomass Dukurs, is in third with a two-run combined time of 1:47.77.
Tress posted impressive finish times of 54.62 and 54.53 seconds and enters the final in seventh position with a total time of 1:49.15. His best World Cup finish to date was an eighth place in last season’s St. Moritz, Switzerland race.
“It went really well,” Tress said. “My biggest thing with racing is consistency, and so today I had two goals; two very consistent runs and to make the top ten for another run tomorrow. I’m really pleased with how that went.”
“We struggled last year because the momentum dipped,” Tress continued. “It’s really hard to pick it up when you get down to that low point. But we’re high now, and we’re just going to carry the momentum forward to Park City next week and through the rest of the season.”
Antoine, who is still recovering from surgery on his right knee, cracked into the top 10 with a combined time of 1:49.50. Antoine earned a bye onto the national team and did not compete in selection races, so today was his first race of the season.
“I kind of had those first run race jitters because I hadn’t competed in team trials,” Antoine said. “I’m working out the kinks and even this morning I was scrambling around to make sure I had everything because I hadn’t gone through the motions yet this year. Having that bye was crucial for me with my knee surgery. Right now I’m keeping my expectations realistic. Top ten is my goal until second half, when I can get myself back in the mix.”
The Lake Placid World Cup continues tomorrow with a packed day of racing. Women’s bobsled kicks off the morning at 9 a.m., and the men’s skeleton final will take place between heats at 10 a.m. Men’s two-man bobsled takes to the ice at 1 p.m., and the women’s skeleton final is schedule between heats at 2:15 p.m.