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Van Ho hosts para bobsled, skeleton team selection races

News photo — Lou Reuter Chris Tarte enters the final curve at Mount Van Hoevenberg during his third run on Friday, Jan. 22 in the U.S. National Team selection race for skeleton. Tarte finished second overall in two days of racing to earn a spot on the team.

LAKE PLACID — Para bobsled and skeleton racers put one competition in the books and have one more event on tap on the mile-long track in Lake Placid this winter.

On Thursday and Friday Jan. 21-22, the sliders held their United States national team selection races at Mount Van Hoevenberg. After two days of racing, three para bobsledders and two skeleton athletes earned spots on the national team.

Although several athletes slid during the two days, only those who began their runs from start No. 1 at the top of the track were eligible to make the team. There were some sliders not participating in the selection races who took their trips from starts lower down the track.

Selection was based on the combined time of the fastest run put down each day by athletes competing. Earning positions on 2020-21 United States Para National Team in bobsled were Will Castillo, Bill Hannigan and Sarah Frazier-Kim, and Robbie Gaupp and Chris Tarte for skeleton.

All three bobsledders making the national team are seated athletes who begin in the sled. They competed in a separate race each day. Thursday’s contest was a three-run race and Friday featured two heats.

Harrigan, of Brandon, Florida, took top honors in a tight race Thursday with a three-heat time of 2 minutes, 56.41 seconds. Castillo was runner-up in 2:56.93 and Frazier-Kim was third in 2:57.67.

Friday’s two-run race was not as close, with Castillo putting down a two-run result of 1:53.59 to triumph by more than four seconds. Harrigan was second in 1:58.24 and Frazier-Kim finished third in 1:59.90.

Castillo, from Orlando, Florida, finished the two days with the top qualifying time of 1:54:56. Harrigan’s two fastest times were good enough for second place in 1:57.77 and Frazier-Kim followed with a 1:58.38 effort.

Gaupp, of Baltimore, won both skeleton races, which were both three-heat contests. Gaupp triumphed on Thursday with a 3:03.3 total and slid to victory Friday in 3:07. Tarte, of Russellville, Arkansas, finished second Thursday in 3:09 and was third on Friday with a 3:13.82 combined time. Mike Villigran was third in the opening race and was runner-up Friday in 3:09.73.

Gaupp earned the top spot on the national team in skeleton with his two fastest runs totaling 2:03.59. Tarte qualified in the second spot with his two best runs totaling 2:06.13.

Three other para athletes who slid during the two days but did not qualify for the national team included push bobsledder James Klingensmith, of Valrico, Florida, and seated bobsledders Bob Balk of Moravia and Tammy Landeen of Caribou, Maine.

The sliders will be back in Lake Placid one more time this season for the U.S. National championships slated for March 20-21.

The para bobsledders have been waiting on a decision if the International Paralympic Committee votes for bobsled to be a sport added to the 2026 Paralympic Winter Games.