Ro leads USA Skeleton in North American Cup finale with two gold medals
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (Jan. 7, 2020)– USA Skeleton athletes captured two spots in the top-three North American Cup standings, and collected five medals in the Lake Placid finale this week. Mystique Ro (Nokesville, Va.) led the way for the women’s team with two gold medals and wrapped up her season ranked third overall. Chris Strup (Defiance, Ohio) concluded a successful North American Cup tour ranked second overall in the men’s field, and secured two silver medals in Lake Placid. Daniel Barefoot (Johnstown, Pa.) earned the fifth medal this week for USA Skeleton by claiming silver in today’s finale.
Two single-heat races were held yesterday, and a two-heat race concluded the skeleton North American Cup season today.
Ro struggled in yesterday’s opening heat, finishing sixth with a run of 55.96 seconds. She said one-heat races are tough because you have “one shot, so you have to make it count.”
“Once that was in the books, I had to scrap it and move on,” Ro said.
Kellie Delka of Puerto Rico won with a run of 55.50 seconds. Yuxi Li from China claimed silver with a time of 55.52, and Korean Eunji Kim was third with a downtime of 55.60. Ro was the highest U.S. finisher in sixth.
Ro rebounded in yesterday’s second one-heat race, posting the fastest run of 55.69 seconds to capture her first victory of the week by 0.01 seconds over Kim. Canadian Jaclyn Laberge earned bronze in 55.82.
In today’s two-heat competition, Ro was in third position after a first heat time of 56.03 seconds. She made up nearly half a second to overtake the lead with a second run of 55.83, earning another gold medal with a combined time of 1:51.86.
“The second win is a great feeling,” Ro said. “I tried to play it safe during my first run, but I made some mistakes. I talked to Matt (Antoine) between heats and made the adjustment before I went down for my final run. I think this was crucial for me to learn that I can be confident in my training and in the knowledge I have gained to be able to put two runs together in competition. The support of my teammates and coaches has been great. I’m excited to continue training and see how we all progress.”
Laberge finished second to Ro with an aggregate time of 1:52.06, followed by Kim in third with a total time of 1:52.18.
Ro’s Lake Placid performances helped her secure third place overall in North American Cup points, despite missing three of the eight races this season while racing the European Cup. Kim claimed the title with 373 points. Nicole Rocha Silveira from Brazil finished second overall with 301 points, while Ro was close behind in third with 290 points.
Lauren McDonald (Fairfield, N.J.) had strong performances in her first-career competitive season. The up-and-coming competitor finished 12th and eighth yesterday, and 12th again today. McDonald and Ro are two of the fastest starters on the tour. McDonald pushed a start time of 5.32 seconds yesterday, and Ro pushed a 5.33. McDonald finished the season ranked fourth with 287 points.
Michelle Toukan (Central City, Neb.) placed 19th and 10th yesterday, and wrapped up her season with an impressive sixth place finish today. She is ranked fifth overall with 271 points. Emily Schelberg (Annapolis, Md.) was 18th and 14th yesterday, and she did not finish today’s competition after a crash in the first heat.
In the men’s field, Strup cracked into the top-six in the final stop season, earning two silver medals and a fourth-place finish. Strup claimed double silver medals in yesterday’s single-heat races. His first silver medal was earned with a run of 53.89 seconds. Wenhao Chen from China was victorious in 53.52, while Ander Mirambell from Spain was third in 54.15 seconds.
Strup claimed silver again in yesterday’s second competition with a downtime of 54.33 seconds. Wenhao was golden in 53.73, and Zilong Zhu from China earned bronze in 54.37.
Strup narrowly missed the medals today, finishing a mere one-hundredth of a second from bronze with a combined time of 1:49.04 for fourth place. Strup finished the season ranked second overall with 346 points.
Barefoot was today’s men’s medalist for the U.S. The Intercontinental Cup competitor posted the fastest run of 53.98 seconds in the first heat, and fell back by just 0.06 seconds in the second heat to finish with the silver medal. Wenhao swept the men’s races. He won today with a combined time of 1:48.24, followed by Barefoot with a 1:48.30, and Zilong in third with a cumulative time of 1:49.03.
“I knew that I’ve had enough runs here to win, but I would have to be at my best,” Barefoot said. “I think that self-inflicted pressure caused some unnecessary tension, but I’m glad to have experienced that and learned how to handle it. Just a couple big mistakes spoiled my runs for races six and seven, so I was pretty happy to clean them up a bit and dip into the 53’s on an overall slower day in race eight. I’m most excited about how much our team is improving overall. Everyone is making significant progress and walking with a little confidence their steps! It’s pretty cool to be around.”
Mirambell claimed the overall title with 370 points. Strup was second, and Nathan Crumpton from American Somoa finished third with 345 points.
Barefoot was fourth and fifth yesterday, and he finished the North American Cup season ranked seventh overall. He spent most of his time racing the Intercontinental Cup, thus missed points from three North American Cup races.
Kyler Sultemeier (Fredericksburg, Texas) concluded his first competitive season ranked 14th. He finished 12th in both of yesterday’s races, and 10th today. Hunter Williams (Carnegie, Pa.) also finished his first racing season. Williams finished 17th, 14th, and 17th, and is ranked 21st.
The North American Cup will officially conclude tomorrow with three four-man bobsled competitions in Lake Placid. Please contact USABS Marketing & Communications Director Amanda Bird at 518-354-2250, or firstname.lastname@example.org, with media inquiries.
Women’s skeleton race #1
1. Kellie Delka (PUR) 55.50;
2. Yuxi Li (CHN) 55.52;
3. Eunji Kim (KOR) 55.60;
6. Mystique Ro (USA) 55.96;
12. Lauren McDonald (USA) 56.93;
18. Emily Schelberg (USA) 57.65;
19. Michelle Toukan (USA) 59.13;
Women’s skeleton race #2
1. Mystique Ro (USA) 55.69;
2. Eunji Kim (KOR) 55.70;
3. Jaclyn Laberge (CAN) 55.82;
8. Lauren McDonald (USA) 56.59;
10. Michelle Toukan (USA) 56.78;
14. Emily Schelberg (USA) 57.42;
Women’s skeleton race #3
1. Mystique Ro (USA) 1:51.86 (56.03, 55.83);
2. Jaclyn Laberge (CAN) 1:52.06 (55.78, 56.28);
3. Eunji Kim (KOR) 1:52.18 (55.90, 56.28);
6. Michelle Toukan (USA) 1:53.43 (56.56, 56.87);
12. Lauren McDonald (USA) 1:54.49 (56.80, 57.69);
Emily Shelberg (USA) (DNF)
Men’s skeleton race #1
1.Wenhao Chen (CHN) 53.52;
2. Chris Strup (USA) 53.89;
3. Ander Mirambell (ESP) 54.15;
4. Daniel Barefoot (USA) 54.21;
12. Kyler Sultemeier (USA) 55.32;
17. Hunter Williams (USA) 55.95;
Men’s skeleton race #2
1.Wenhao Chen (CHN) 53.73;
2. Chris Strup (USA) 54.33;
3. Zilong Zhu (CHN) 54.37;
5. Daniel Barefoot (USA) 54.62;
12. Kyler Sultemeier (USA) 55.95;
14. Hunter Williams (USA) 56.30;
Men’s skeleton race #3
1.Wenhao Chen (CHN) 1:48.24 (54.17, 54.07);
2. Daniel Barefoot (USA) 1:48.30 (53.98, 54.32);
3. Zilong Zhu (CHN) 1:49.03 (54.67, 54.36);
4. Chris Strup (USA) 1:49.04 (54.40, 54.64);
10. Kyler Sultemeier (USA) 1:51.21 (55.60, 55.61);
15. Hunter Williams (USA) 1:52.46 (56.25, 56.21);
About USA Bobsled & Skeleton
USA Bobsled & Skeleton (USABS), based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. USABS would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: BMW of North America, Under Armour, Omaze, Kampgrounds of America, BiPro, Boomerang Carnets, Hudl, Tesa Tape, PVS International, Ferris Mfg. Corp, Machintek, deBotech and Carpenter. For more information, please visit the USABS website at www.usabs.com.