Intercontinental, North American Cup circuits kick off

LAKE PLACID — After months of offseason training and a competitive team selection process, international racing begins this weekend for USA Bobsled and Skeleton athletes competing on the Intercontinental Cup (ICC) and North American Cup (NAC) circuits.

Athletes racing the World Cup circuit began an international training week on Monday in preparation for their season opener Nov. 9-10 in Lake Placid.

Both tours kick off in Whistler, Canada this weekend. ICC, a skeleton-only circuit, hits the ice Saturday. Team USA fields a strong group of six athletes on the tour, led by Annie O’Shea on the women’s side and Nathan Crumpton on the men’s, both of whom raced on World Cup last season.

Also competing on the men’s ICC circuit for Team USA is Kyle Brown, who made his fourth consecutive national team after a strong showing at USA Skeleton National Team Trials. Mike Rogals rounds out the U.S. men’s team. Rogals was brought up to the national team for the second half of the season last year after competing on the European Cup circuit during the first half.

Joining O’Shea on the women’s team is Meg Henry and Gracie Clapp-Taylor. Henry and Clapp-Taylor both have experience racing on the ICC tour. Henry’s fourth place finish at USA Skeleton National Team Trials earned her her spot on the national team this year, while Clapp-Taylor, who spent last year on NAC getting back into the sport after taking a year off for hip surgery, is back stronger than ever.

NAC bobsled will also begin Saturday, beginning at noon for the women, and 6:30 p.m. for two-man. Pilots Geoff Gadbois (Milton, Vermont) and Hunter Church (Cadyville) will represent Team USA on the men’s side in both two-man and four-man, while Kristi Koplin and Nicole Vogt will pilot sleds in the women’s competition.

NAC skeleton will also race this weekend, as Veronica Day, Samantha Culiver and Kristen Hurley will don the stars and stripes in the women’s competition, while Austin Florian, Austin McCrary, Andrew Blaser and Mike Brandt will race for the men.