Delka leads Team USA in European Cup races

WINTERBERG, Germany — Kellie Delka was once again Team USA’s leader in European Cup skeleton action last weekend, finishing sixth and ninth in the two races in Winterberg. On the men’s side, Stephen Garbett raced to 11th- and 12th-place results.

“The races were a quick turnaround from Norway, plus with just two days of official training, we were all lacking recovery,” USA Skeleton coach Lauri Bausch said. “Regardless, our training results were very promising. I feel their discouragement when they are well prepared and push and slide well on race day, but sit further back than they did in training.”

Delka, of Texas, recorded her best result of the young season thus far, taking sixth in the first Winterberg race. Her 5.49- and 5.45-second pushes in each heat were among the best in the field, but she struggled in the first run, posting the ninth fastest downtime. Delka recovered in the second run, bettering her start and clocking the sixth fastest downtime of the heat to move up three spots into sixth. She finished with a combined downtime of 1:59.38, less than three-tenths of a second off the podium.

“I had some really great races here,” she said. “I’m putting a lot of things together, and every day is getting a little better.”

Fellow American Leslie Stratton (Bedford, New Hampshire) took 17th, though Bausch said she had been clocking some of the fastest times during training.

Great Britain’s Brogan Crowley won the race in 1:58.53, topping silver medalists Corinna Leipold of Germany and Marinela Mazilu, who posted identical 1:59.09 downtimes, by 0.56 seconds.

In the men’s opening race, Garbett threaded together runs of 58.76 and 58.17 to finish 11th in his first race on the Winterberg track.

“I learned a lot the past week,” he said. “I gained a lot of valuable knowledge that I know will help on other tracks and racing here in the future. I plan on moving up in the ranks our next two races.”

The Germans dominated the competition, as Martin Rosenberger, Fabian Kuechler and Felix Seibel made up the podium, posting downtimes of 1:54.37, 1:54.59 and 1:55.67, respectively. Team USA’s Alex Ivanov, who posted top 10 finishes last week in Lillehammer, Norway, pulled his hamstring at the start of the first heat, causing him to finish 21st.

Leipold took gold in the second women’s race, posting the fastest downtime of each heat to beat out silver medalist Alina Tararychenkova of Russia by 0.31 seconds. Crowley nabbed her second medal of the weekend, a bronze, in 1:57.99.

Delka, meanwhile, posted consistent push times of 5.52 in each heat en route to a 1:58.80 combined downtime and ninth place. Stratton bumped up a spot to 16th in 2:00.40, wrapping up her first races on the Winterberg track.

Kuechler, Rosenberger and Seibel, in that order, swept the podium for Germany in the men’s second race. Kuechler finished with a downtime of 1:53.90 after posting the fastest time of each heat, while Rosenberger and Seibel were 0.27 and 0.68 seconds behind him, respectively.

Garbett finished in 12th with a combined downtime of 1:56.88 to lead Team USA, while Ivanov, pushing on one leg due to his hamstring injury, ended up in 28th.

The European Cup team has a couple of weeks to recover, which they will spend training in Altenberg, Germany, and Konigssee, Germany, before traveling to La Plagne, France, to conclude the first half of the season.