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Lake Placid hosts bobsled, skeleton World Cup this week

November 9, 2017
By LOU REUTER - Senior Sports Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - With veteran pilots Elana Meyers Taylor and Jamie Greubel Poser paving the way, there's little doubt that the American women are heading into this bobsled World Cup and Olympic season as the team to beat.

The United States men will have to regain that status as they kick off a new winter of competition without their top and most successful pilot ever after the unexpected death of the legendary Steve Holcomb.

The World Cup season kicked off this week as the planet's top bobsled and skeleton athletes made their annual pilgrimage to Lake Placid, and even though Holcomb is no longer around to lead the U.S. athletes onto the track, there's plenty of confidence when it comes to the American men's hopes for success.

Article Photos

Pilot Codie Bascue and crew members Frank Del Duca, Adrian Adams and Sam Michener slide down the Mount Van Hoevenberg track at the Olympic Sports Complex during the World Cup bobsled and skeleton races in December 2016. This week’s World Cup races are being held Nov. 9 and 10.
(News photo — Lou Reuter)

The World Cup schedule at Mount Van Hoevenberg on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 9 and 10, features men's and women's bobsled and skeleton racing, and U.S. driver bobsled Nick Cunningham believes that with three seasoned drivers and some great push athletes behind them, the American men are poised for a strong showing, especially since they are starting the year on home ice.

"We're still very, very confident with who we have on the team, and I think the brakemen have definitely shown that every one is ready to step up," Cunningham said Wednesday afternoon after the U.S. men and women completed their training runs earlier in the day. "It's shown through team trials and coming into World Cup one. "It's carrying on that legacy of being a medal threat every time we touch the starting block, and I think that's the pilots' mentality going into the season. On any track we need to be that medal favorite, and what better way to start on our home track and build that momentum."

Cunningham enters the season as the driver of USA 2, and hopes to climb up into the top spot by the time the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang take place in South Korea in February. Codie Bascue and Justin Olsen are the other two American drivers gearing up for the World Cup and Olympic season.

"My goal now is to just prove myself throughout the season and earn USA 1," said Cunningham, who has the most driving experience among the three U.S. men's drivers. "That's my goal - going into the Olympics in USA 1. My guys are ready, and they're ready to prove themselves. We like the fact that people overlook us and we want to prove them wrong. It gives us a way to show people who we are and what we can do, and show them our passion for winning."

The one big drawback for the U.S. men is the fact that the four-man bobsled competition slated for Friday was canceled due to varying ice conditions during a week that started out with temperatures in the 50s that were expected to drop significantly as the weekend closes in.

"If we had a four-man race here, we'd be showing the world the kind of depth that we really do have," Cunningham said. "The fact that we've been training at one temperature and we would go and race at a drastically different temperature - that was the icing on the cake of why were are not going to race. We were all pumped for four-man here, and to start the momentum by hopefully sweeping both two- and four-man. But now hopefully we'll sweep two-man here in and then sweep them both in (the next World Cup race) in Park City."

Racing in Lake Placid kicked off Thursday with women's skeleton and bobsled and men's two-man bobsled. Action slated for Friday included men's skeleton and men's two-man bobsled.


Chinese team

The World Cup season opener in Lake Placid will see the People's Republic of China taking part in the BMW IBSF World Cup for the first time in history, three months before the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea and four years before China will host the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing and the neighboring Hebei province in February 2022.

Skeleton athlete Wenqiang Geng, who finished fourth overall in last winter's IBSF Intercontinental Cup, has been nominated for his first World Cup race of the Olympic season by head coach Jeff Pain, according to an IBSF press release. To be eligible to start, the 22-year-old - like all other athletes - must first complete at least two crash-free runs during the official World Cup training session.

Lake Placid is the course where Wenqiang Geng achieved his best results to date. In March 2016, he finished sixth at the IBSF North American Cup and in January 2017 he took fifth place in the Intercontinental Cup.

In all, athletes from a total of 22 countries will be battling it out in the opening World Cup races in Lake Placid.

The World Cup circuit continues next week in Park City, Utah, and the following week in Whistler, Canada, before moving to Europe, where races will be held in Winterberg, Germany on Dec. 8 to 10.



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