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We’re ready for bobsled and skeleton

An American bobsled athlete practices for World Cup racing on Sunday, Dec. 11 at the Mount Van Hoevenberg sliding track. (Provided photo — IBSF)

LAKE PLACID — For the first time in three years, the state Olympic Regional Development Authority will host an International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation World Cup at the at Mount Van Hoevenberg track. Races will take place from Friday, Dec. 16 to Sunday, Dec. 18.

It is the third stop on the World Cup tour for the top international bobsled and skeleton athletes. The season began in November at Whistler, British Columbia, and continued at Park City, Utah, before heading to Lake Placid, wrapping up the North American tour before the Christmas break.

Lake Placid last hosted the IBSF World Cup tour in December 2019 with a pair of back-to-back World Cups after a refrigeration issue at the Utah track forced a move to New York.

That was just before the coronavirus pandemic, during which all IBSF World Cup races were held outside North America.

This village was supposed to host the 2021 bobsled/skeleton World Championships, but they were moved to Altenberg, Germany due to COVID concerns and travel restrictions. Instead, Lake Placid was awarded the 2025 bobsled/skeleton World Championships, which will be held a year before the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milano Cortina, Italy.

U.S. bobsled pilot Kaillie Humphries heads down the Mount Van Hoevenberg track with Lauren Gibbs in December 2019 during a World Cup. They won a gold medal in the race. (News file photo — Lou Reuter)

Racing begins on Friday, Dec. 16 with men’s and women’s skeleton. Here is the race schedule: 10:30 a.m., men’s skeleton (run 1); 12:15 p.m., men’s skeleton (run 2); 2:30 p.m., women’s skeleton (run 1); 4 p.m., women’s skeleton (run 2). Men’s and women’s awards 30 minutes after their last runs at Awards Plaza, Mountain Pass Lodge.

Saturday’s action will feature two-man bobsled and women’s monobob. Here is the race schedule: 10 a.m., two-man bobsled (run 1); 11:30 a.m., two-man bobsled (run 2); 12:40 p.m., awards ceremony at Awards Plaza, Mountain Pass Lodge; 2:30 p.m., women’s monobob (run 1); 4 p.m., women’s monobob (run 2); 5 p.m., awards ceremony at Awards Plaza, Mountain Pass Lodge.

On Sunday, there will be races for two-woman bobsled and four-man bobsled. Here is the race schedule: 10 a.m., two-woman bobsled (run 1); 11:30 a.m., two-woman bobsled (run 2); 12:35 p.m., awards ceremony at Awards Plaza, Mountain Pass Lodge; 2:30 p.m., four-man bobsled (run 1); 4 p.m., four-man bobsled (run 2); 5:10 p.m., awards ceremony at Awards Plaza, Mountain Pass Lodge.

The World Cup races are open to the public. Tickets are available inside the Mountain Pass Lodge or online in advance at mtvanhoevenberg.com.

The ones to watch

In its preview of the Lake Placid World Cup, the IBSF said the team from Great Britain is the most successful country in skeleton so far this year, with UK athletes collecting five podium places over the first two weekends of racing.

“With one first-place finish and one third-place finish, Marcus Wyatt tops the overall standings in the men’s skeleton ahead of Lake Placid,” the IBSF reported. “His team mate Matt Weston slid to a bronze medal in Park City. In the women’s skeleton event, Brogan Crowley took a surprise silver medal in Whistler, achieving her first World Cup podium finish. Laura Deas, the Olympic bronze medalist from Pyeongchang 2018, celebrated her first podium place since February 2019 with a third-place finish in Park City.”

In women’s bobsled, U.S. pilot Kaillie Humphries is one to watch, according to the IBSF. She’s secured four podium finishes so far this year: a pair of bronze medals for monobob and two-woman bobsledding (with Emily Renna) at Whistler; and a gold medal in monobob and bronze medal in the two-woman event (with Jasmine Jones) at Park City.

“Humphries — who with three Olympic golds and four World Championship titles is the most successful female bobsleigh pilot of all time — is arriving in Lake Placid at the top of the standings in the monobob event and third place in the two-woman bobsleigh,” the IBSF stated.

Humphries won the gold medal in women’s monobob when it debuted on the Winter Olympic schedule during the 2022 Games in Beijing. She will race this weekend in the two-woman event with 2022 Olympic teammate Kaysha Love.

Nicole Vogt will pilot the USA2 2-woman sled and also compete in monobob, according to an ORDA press release. Fellow American Riley Compton, an active-duty Marine in her first year on the U.S. national team, will also compete in both disciplines in the USA3 sled.

Germany’s Kim Kalicki has won both gold medals in the two-woman World Cup bobsled races so far this year. She is the reigning European champion and World Championship silver medalist from 2020 and 2021.

In men’s bobsledding, the Olympic and World Champion Francesco Friedrich, of Germany, is one to watch, according to the IBSF. He won gold medals in both the two- and four-man races at the Utah Olympic Park.

“From the World Cup race’s host team, Geoff Gadbois and Frank Del Duca have a chance of becoming the first U.S. squad in several years to win World Cup gold in a men’s event,” the IBSF reported. “The most recent U.S. winner in the two-man bobsleigh was Codie Bascue in Lake Placid in November 2017. U.S. fans have waited even longer for a win in the four-man bobsleigh — the last gold medal was won in Innsbruck in January 2014 by Steven Holcomb, who passed away in 2017.”

Del Duca, who lives in Saranac Lake, recorded his career-best World Cup result as a pilot with a seventh-place finish on Dec. 3 in Park City, according to ORDA. He was joined by Adrian Adams, Manteo Mitchell and Hakeem Abdul-Saboor.

“Adams and Mitchell are coming fresh off their four-man bobsleigh win at the IBSF World Push Championships,” ORDA stated.

Bobsled and skeleton athletes competed last weekend in the IBSF World Push Championships in Lake Placid. The gold medals were awarded to Yin Zheng of China (men’s skeleton), pilot Lisa Buckwitz of Germany (women’s monobob, two-woman bobsleigh), Mystique Ro of the U.S. (women’s skeleton) and pilot Kristopher Horn of the U.S. (two- and four-man bobsleigh).

The U.S. women’s skeleton team, according to ORDA, is led by Olympians Kelly Curtis and Kendall Wesenberg.

“Teammate Hallie Clark, an 18-year-old who came to Team USA from the Canadian team, made a splash in her first career World Cup race on Nov. 24 by capturing silver at the Whistler Sliding Center in British Columbia,” ORDA stated. “Clark currently sits fourth in the overall rankings, trailing Hannah Neise of Germany, Mirela Rahneva of Canada, and Tina Hermann of Germany.”

The U.S. men’s skeleton team will be represented by Austin Florian and Olympian Andrew Blaser.

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