The United States’ bobsled and skeleton teams will try to get off to fast starts when the eight-race 2012-’13 Viessman World Cup bobsled and skeleton series opens on the Olympic Sports Complex track, at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, in Lake Placid, N.Y., Nov. 8-10. Last February, the team captured a record five medals, including four gold, when the same track played host to the season-ending 2012 FIBT world championships.
“I’m excited to be starting the season in Lake Placid. I’m fastest on this track as you saw back in February,” said U.S. bobsled pilot Steve Holcomb, who raced to three world championship gold medals, including the United States’ first-ever two-man world crown. “I’m hoping I can keep the momentum going and start the season on a high note. It will help set the tone for the rest of the season.”
The 2012-2013 national bobsled team is composed of a diverse roster of powerful and determined athletes who are eager to carry the momentum from last season’s success into the upcoming World Cup circuit.
This season’s women’s bobsled team is a mix of rookies and veterans. Elana Meyers (Douglasville, Ga.) received a bye onto the team for her World Championship bronze medal performance last season and will pilot USA I. Jamie Greubel (Newtown, Pa.) won both selection races to earn her position as pilot of USA II, while Jazmine Fenlator (Wayne, N.J.) was named to USA III in her third season as a driver.
The six women’s bobsled push athletes named to the national team includes: World Indoor Champion and American record holder 100-meter hurdler Lolo Jones (Des Moines, Iowa), 4×100-meter relay Olympic gold medalist Tianna Madison (Elyria, Ohio), 2010 Olympian Emily Azevedo (Chico, Calif.), World Championship medalist Katie Eberling (Palos Hills, Ill.), current Lake Placid start record holder Aja Evans (Chicago, Ill.), and former University of California at Berkeley track athlete Cherrelle Garrett (Hayward, Calif.).
Reigning World Champion Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) will once again drive the men’s team USA I sled. National Guardsman Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) earned his position at the helm of USA II after sweeping team selection races, while Cory Butner (Yucaipa, Calif.) will pilot USA III.
The pool of men’s bobsled push athletes is one of the strongest yet. The selection features Holcomb’s world championship push crew of Steve Langton (Melrose, Mass.), Justin Olsen (San Antonio, Texas) and Curt Tomasevicz (Shelby, Neb.). The remaining nine athletes named to the team includes veterans Adam Clark (Owenton, Ky.), Johnny Quinn (McKinney, Texas), Chuck Berkeley (Walnut Creek, Calif.), Laszlo Vandracsek (Phoenix, Ariz.), Chris Fogt (Alpine, Utah), Dallas Robinson (Georgetown, Ky.), Jesse Beckom (Chicago, Ill.) and rookies Andreas Drbal (Belmont, Calif.) and Nic Taylor (Hayward, Calif.).
The Lake Placid race is the first of three events on North American tracks to begin the season. The tour will also make stops on the 2002 Olympic track in Park City, Utah, Nov. 16-17, and the 2010 Olympic course in Whistler, Canada the following weekend, Nov. 23-24.
Maximilian Arndt will be returning to Lake Placid. The 25 year-old, who is entering his ninth season driving for Team Germany, won his first-career world championship two-man medal when he claimed bronze on the 20-curve track and he was also second to Holcomb in the four-man race.
Canada’s Kaillie Humphries and United States’ Elana Meyers will be two sleds to watch during the women’s bobsled race. Humphries, the reigning Olympic champion, claimed gold at Worlds to close out last season, edging Meyers, who finished third. This was Meyers’ first world championship medal as a driver. She had claimed silver as a brakeman in 2009 before winning Olympic bronze the following season, also as a brakeman.
The skeleton racing should be equally as exciting as both reigning world champions return to Lake Placid. Latvia’s “Superman” Martins Dukurs dominated last season winning seven of eight World Cup events before grabbing world championship gold. American Katie Uhlander, a two-time overall World Cup champion, is also eying a fast start after she wrapped up last season with gold at Worlds.
“It’s a tremendous honor to host the world championships and we’re equally honored to be the first stop on the World Cup tour,” added the track’s general manager Tony Carlino. “I can’t think of a better venue to host the first race of the season. This track, as always, promises to challenge all of the skills of each of these world-class athletes.”
Action begins each day at 9 a.m. Thursday’s, Nov. 8, slate features women’s and men’s skeleton action, while Saturday’s line-up includes two-man and women’s bobsled, as well as the women’s and men’s skeleton finals. The two-heat, four-man race is set for Sunday.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $9 for juniors and seniors. Fans who bring a non-perishable food item to the gate will receive free admission, limited one food item per ticket, per person.
For more information about this race and all of the events taking place on ORDA’s Olympic venues, visit www.whitefacelakeplacid.com.
Photos: Above, 2012 Four Man Bobsled World Champions (Faye Hendrick Photo); Below, the USA-1 sled headed down the track (Pat Hendrick Photo).