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Graybill, Daly secure Continental Cup wins

January 27, 2017
Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - John Daly and Savannah Graybill raced to victory in the final two Intercontinental Cup Circuit races of the season Friday in Lake Placid. Graybill earned two gold medals on her home track while Daly took a gold and a silver. Megan Henry also took home two medals, finishing the season with a silver and a bronze.

For Graybill, the wins were particularly sweet after she finished 15th in the Lake Placid World Cup race in December. She concludes the season ranked second overall on the ICC tour.

"It feels awesome," she said. "Obviously the Lake Placid World Cup didn't go the way I wanted it to. Mentally, I just wanted to come here and I wanted to win. I had a great day on the last day of official training, that gave me the confidence to come into the race knowing I could do it. That's when I'm generally at my fastest."

Graybill and Henry battled for gold in the first women's race. Henry led after her first-run downtime of 55.97 edged Graybill's 55.97. Graybill was able to respond in the second heat though, posting the fastest downtime of the heat to beat Henry by nearly half a second at the bottom of the track, finishing with a combined downtime of 1:52.09.

Great Britain's Donna Creighton took bronze in 1:52.60, while Veronica Day, the final American in the women's field, finished 10th in 1:53.69.

The opening men's race belonged to Daly, as he beat out second-place Marcus Wyatt of Great Britain by more than a third of a second. Daly threaded together the fastest time of each heat even though it started snowing during the second run. His 54.37 and 54.87 downtimes were .36 seconds ahead of Wyatt, who posted a combined downtime of 1:49.60. Britain's Jeremy Rice took bronze in 1:49.66.

The win was Daly's fourth in six races over three different tours since he returned to sliding in January. He took two golds in the Park City, Utah North American Cup races, followed that with a fifth-place finish in the St. Moritz European Cup, then swept the Lake Placid North American Cup races last week.

"I feel good about these races," Daly said. "From January 3 until now, it's been seven races, so it was a little bit hard. There were moments of good sliding for me this week, but nothing great yet."

Overall though, I feel good."

Mike Rogals and Greg West finished in eighth and ninth, respectively. Rogals sat in fourth place after a strong 54.73 second first heat, but fell back to eighth after mustering just the 11th-fastest downtime of the second run. West, meanwhile, put together the 10th and ninth fastest runs of each heat, respectively, for ninth. West was the top overall finisher for Team USA on the Intercontinental Cup circuit this season in 12th.

Graybill once again dominated in the second and final race, taking gold and beating out silver medalist Lanette Prediger of Canada by nearly half a second. Graybill recorded the two fastest times of each heat, and her 1:54.02 combined downtime was enough to top Prediger's 1:54.51.

"I'm proud of how my teammates competed today and even prouder to stand beside them," Graybill said. "They made this season incredibly fun and stress-free. I'm sad to see our season come to an end, I'll miss traveling and training with them."

Henry, who concludes the season ranked fourth overall on the circuit, took bronze after two strong runs and finished in 1:54.81. She also recorded the fastest start times of each heat.

"I feel really good," Henry said. "Obviously if you're going to get beat by someone, Savannah is the one you want. Today we battled snow, but I was really happy with my performance overall. Coming from Calgary, things started to click for me more and it was awesome to execute on my home track."

Day, who ranks eighth overall on the ICC tour, also had a strong showing, taking fifth with a combined downtime of 1:55.31.

"Veronica bounced back today and finished strong in her last race," ICC coach Brian McDonald said. "That's a huge confidence booster. She was really trying to help out Team USA with securing enough points to race all three sleds in tour and she certainly did her part."

Daly fell back into second after posting the fastest downtime of the first heat, a 55.69. Adverse weather conditions were part of the reason for Daly's slower second run - he recorded just the fifth-fastest time of the second heat - but McDonald said the travel fatigue and readjusting to the sport were also factors.

"I think he'd agree that he still is a little rusty in terms of flow and gelling with the track," McDonald said. "He had a long two weeks of racing after being off for two years. To be able to win at this level and not be 100 percent bodes well for him moving towards his goals. His veteran experience definitely helped him pull out these performances. But he has a lot of work left to do."

Russians Egor Veselov and Vladislav Marchenkov took gold and bronze in 1:50.67 and 1:50.96, respectively. For Team USA, West was the next-fastest finisher in eighth.

"Sometimes the sport doesn't make sense," West said. "I was happy with my drives today and to be within .05 of Daly at the start. Going off the hill 22nd in snow didn't help, but I am still a bit puzzled. I'm looking forward to a productive offseason and plan to hit the ground running next season healthy and fighting for spots."

Rogals, in his second ICC race of the season, took 11th to round out the American sleds.

"Yesterday was good, today less so," he said. "I got behind the track after some snow in the second run. Having snow in the track was tough. I could've handled it better, but I made good corrections in the second run."



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