Uhlaender within striking distance of medals in World Cup opener

 LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (Nov. 8, 2012)-After a rocky first run in the women’s skeleton World Cup season opener, Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) strung together a blistering second heat to complete the first day of racing in sixth position at Mount Van Hoevenberg. The Lake Placid skeleton events are being held in a new three-heat format, and only the top 10 athletes qualified for the final tomorrow.

 “I’m really happy that there’s a third heat coming,” Uhlaender said. “The field is competitive though, and it’s Lake Placid- anything can happen.”

Katie Uhlaender at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics February 19, 2010. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The last time Uhlaender took a competitive run on the Lake Placid course she was en route to winning the 2012 World Championship title. The gold medal favorite was in the lead by the third split of her first run, but a major hit against the wall before corner 10 bumped her into 12th position.

“I hit really hard out of corner 10, and I haven’t done that in years,” Uhlaender said. “I guess I just screwed up…. Before the second heat I was talking to [Steven] Holcomb via text and calmed myself down and reminded myself of what I did at worlds.”

Uhlaender regrouped and clocked a blistering second run of 55.89 seconds. She bettered her first heat by 0.64 seconds and moved up six positions to place her within striking distance of the medals tomorrow with a two-run combined time of 1:52.42.

Canadians Sarah Reid and Mellisa Hollingsworth clocked total times of 1:51.72 and 1:51.74 to finish in first and second place after the first day of racing. Reid’s best World Cup finish to date is sixth and she looked astonished with her first day result while standing in the leader’s box. Hollingsworth wrapped up the 2011-2012 season second overall, and is always a threat for the podium.

Germany’s Marion Thees posted a two-run total of 1:52.02 to finish 0.30 seconds off the pace in third.

Kimber Gabryszak (Park City, Utah) had a strong showing in the U.S. team selection races, but she just missed qualifying for the final heat tomorrow after finishing 13th. Gabryszak clocked runs of 56.77 and 56.26 seconds for a combined time of 1:53.03 to put her 0.22 seconds from the top 10.

“Ironically, it’s almost a relief,” Garbyszak said about starting the international competitive season. “The competition here is extremely intense. I’m just glad to be here first and foremost. I’m having a great time. I had a really rough first run, but my second run was good. I should be happy with that.”

“There’s a little rust remembering how to handle the pressure of World Cup,” Gabryszak said. “Trying to treat it like another day of sliding is always a challenge.”

World Cup action continues at 1 p.m. today with the men’s skeleton event. The women’s and men’s skeleton finals will take place tomorrow between the bobsled races.

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