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USA Bobsled/Skeleton athletes celebrate first runs of the season in Lake Placid

Mount Van Hoevenberg track (Provided photo — Jimmy Reed)

LAKE PLACID — USA Bobsled/Skeleton athletes are back on ice at Mount Van Hoevenberg to kick off the much-anticipated 2020-2021 season. U.S. athletes are normally on track by early October, but increased safety measures due to the global pandemic delayed the start of the season.

“It’s great to have the team back on the ice,” USABS CEO Aron McGuire said in a statement. “We’ve had all hands on deck to get our athletes back to the ice safely. While it’s complicated and things continually change, our athletes have done an exceptional job of remaining flexible and focused. One of the positives of this pandemic is that we’ve seen just how resilient and strong our athletes are.”

Team trials were originally scheduled to take place in Lake Placid and Park City, Utah, but USABS leadership announced Tuesday, Nov. 3 that team trials will take place entirely in Lake Placid. The coaches and staff want to limit the number of variables involved in team selections by not disrupting the system currently in place. In addition, warmer temperatures are expected in Lake Placid, which may push the current competition days back. USABS is hoping to utilize the Park City track for national team training camps after the team is named.

Skeleton athletes were welcomed to the track by a snow storm Monday, Nov. 2, when they had the opportunity to take their first runs of the season.

“After a longer than normal offseason and so much uncertainty leading into this winter, it was nice to finally get on ice,” skeleton Olympian Kendall Wesenberg said in a press release. “We know how much effort went into getting us to this point, and we are so thankful for the extra effort. Our USABS staff, the U.S. Olympic Training Center staff, and the track crew put in a lot of hard work to make this happen, and it feels great to be back getting to do what we do.”

Bobsledders had to wait one more day before getting back on ice, and took their opening run of the 2020-2021 season the evening of Election Day.

“Getting back in the saddle was huge today,” bobsled pilot Hunter Church said in a press release. “It’s hard enough to go an entire summer without driving, but even harder because my last run of the 2019-2020 season was a crash. It felt really good to shake that off finally. The track crew is hustling the best they can to keep us sliding, and we’re very appreciative for everyone’s extra efforts to get us on ice this season.”

USABS athletes will be training and competing in Lake Placid for the start of national team trials to decide who will compete on the World Cup tour. The U.S. team has opted out of at least the first half of the international season to reduce quarantine times and travel for the athletes.