LAKE PLACID - Latvia's Martins Dukurs has the lead halfway through the men's race at the skeleton world championships.
The defending world champion, who has won 12 of his last 13 races, finished two runs in 1 minute, 48.14 seconds over the 19-curve layout at Mount Van Hoevenberg on a snowy Friday night.
Dukurs, who had runs of 53.77 seconds and 54.37, led Frank Rommel of Germany by 0.69 seconds. Matt Antoine of the United States was third, a distant 1.18 behind, while teammate John Daly was ninth, 1.76 behind the leader.
The final two runs are tonight.
Dukurs, the third to slide in the opening heat after the German duo of Alexander Kroeckel and Rommel, established a lead of 0.23 seconds over Rommel, crossing the finish line just 0.09 off Antoine's year-old track record.
Russian star Alexander Tretiakov was the fifth slider in the first heat and had the fastest start, but he got into trouble on the way down.
Tretiakov nearly caromed out of control, one runner briefly going airborne as he dragged his feet along the ice. When he crossed the finish line, Tretiakov already was a goner, mired in 17th place, 1.52 seconds behind. His second run was even worse; he remained in the same position but a daunting 2.55 behind.
Rommel is the only slider to post a victory during Dukurs' amazing streak. He won the gold at Konigssee, Germany in January, when Dukurs was sixth.
But Rommel lost more ground on the second run Friday when Dukurs posted the fastest time again.
Antoine surged past Dukurs' brother, Tomass, on the second heat, posting a time of 55.04 to move in contention for the silver.