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O’Shea, Crumpton collect top 10 finishes

November 8, 2017
Lake Placid News

WHISTLER, British Columbia - Annie O'Shea and Nathan Crumpton combined for three top-10 finishes in the opening races of the Intercontinental Cup tour in Whistler, Canada last weekend. O'Shea finished fourth and seventh in the women's competitions, while Crumpton took ninth and 11th in the men's field to lead Team USA.

"Everyone struggled a little bit, but we're really holding each other up as a team," O'Shea said. "It's always better to be competing alongside your teammates than in a stressful situation against them directly. All we can do now is move forward and prepare for Calgary, so that's what I'm going to try to focus on."

O'Shea's fourth-place finish in Saturday's season opener was only 0.12 seconds from a medal as she threaded together runs of 54.66 and 54.86 seconds to lead Team USA. This season marks O'Shea's fourth consecutive national team berth, and she is no stranger to the harrowing Whistler track, having raced there eight times in her career.

"Fourth is a good start to the year," she said. "I just want to give it everything I have every race and just know that I'm doing everything I can to have a great finish each day."

Team USA's Megan Henry followed O'Shea in 11th, while Gracie Clapp-Taylor, in the second race of her career in Whistler, took 13th. Henry's 4.93 second starts were the fastest of each heat.

Topping the first women's ICC podium of the year was Germany's Anna Fernstaedt, whose 1:47.81 combined downtime was 0.70 seconds faster than Lanette Prediger of Canada, who took second. Switzerland's Marina Gilardoni rounded out the podium in 1:49.38.

In the first men's competition, Crumpton posted the seventh and ninth fastest downtimes of each heat - 53.50 and 53.64 seconds, respectively - to finish ninth. The top-10 finish is encouraging for Crumpton, who was sidelined for most of USA Skeleton National Team Trials due to a bulging disc in his lumbar. The former Princeton University triple jumper's 4.64 first heat push was tied for the fourth fastest in the field of 29 sliders.

"Above all, the results are disheartening," Crumpton said. "I'm confused and frustrated with how these races went. I was sliding well in training when the ice was warmer, and at first I struggled to adjust to the colder, harder ice for the races.

"My back has stabilized, and continues to improve, but isn't back to full health yet. I was pleased to set new personal best push times here, which is a testament to the work I did in the offseason, but I'm still being cautious with my motions and limiting spinal compression."

Mike Rogals and Kyle Brown, who made the national team this year after stellar showings at team trials, took 15th and 25th, respectively, to open the season.

Rogals, who was pulled up to ICC for the second half of last season, said he saw personal improvement on a track that has traditionally been one of his worst.

"This was much better than the last two times I came to Whistler," he said. "I got second runs both days in a competitive field on a track where I've never left without a concussion. This was an overall positive week, but I'm definitely looking forward to next weekend."

The men's race was tighter than the women's for the medals, as Germany's Kilian von Schleinitz took gold, edging Russian Pavel Kulikov and German teammate Felix Keisinger, who tied for second with 1:45.91 combined downtimes. Von Schleinitz recorded the fastest downtime in the second heat to win by 0.24 seconds.

On the second day of Whistler racing, O'Shea posted solid start times of 4.96 and 4.95 in her two heats, but fell back to finish seventh. Her top 10 finish led Team USA, while Clapp-Taylor and Henry took 11th and 12th. Both saw positives in their races, as Clapp-Taylor had a particularly strong first run, posting the fifth fastest downtime of the heat, a 54.71, while Henry's 4.88 first run push was easily the quickest of the competition.

Meanwhile, Canadians claimed the top two spots on home ice, as Prediger and Madison Charney recorded 1:48.59 and 1:49.17 combined downtimes to earn gold and silver, respectively. Russia's Maria Orlova took bronze in 1:49.19.

Crumpton's 11th place finish in the final race of the weekend led Team USA, but he said his result was not indicative of his performance. After pushing a 4.63-second start in the first heat, Crumpton said he was having the best run of his life in Whistler, but the time bled out on him. Crumpton has historically been strong on the Whistler track, posting his second best World Cup result there, a seventh place finish in the 2015-2016 season.

The Germans swept the podium, as von Schleinitz, Keisinger and Michael Zachrau were all within one-tenth of each other to claim the first, second and third positions. They posted combined downtimes of 1:45.84, 1:45.91 and 1:45.92, and finished three-tenths ahead of any other slider. For Team USA, Rogals took 16th, while Brown improved to 19th to close out the Whistler chapter of ICC.

The ICC team will remain in Canada, next heading to Calgary for its third and fourth races of the season.



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