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Crumpton leads Team USA at skeleton worlds

IGLS, Austria – Nathan Crumpton leads Team USA in eighth position after the first day of men’s skeleton World Championships in Igls, Austria. Olympic bronze medalist Matt Antoine is just one-tenth of a second off his teammate’s pace in 11th, while Kyle Brown put together a speedy second run after a problematic first heat for 13th.

“It’s so close,” Crumpton said. “Finishes are razor thin on a track like Igls. The tiniest difference and smallest changes can have an impact right down to the finish line. It’s super tight, and it makes for great racing. I just hope I come out on top.”

Sub five-second start times helped Crumpton, a former NCAA Division I track and field athlete from Princeton, nudge into the top-10 in his World Championship debut. He graduated as an All-Ivy League selection in triple jump, and as the third farthest triple jumper in Princeton history. Crumpton posted start times of 4.97 and 4.96 seconds for the eighth fastest pushes of 34 competitors.

“My knee is feeling really good,” Crumpton said. “I had surgery this past summer and my start times are coming around. Having that extra velocity going into curve one is definitely helpful.”

Crumpton was in 11th position after a first run of 53.22 seconds, but the eighth best time of the second heat, 53.05, moved the American up three positions. He leads Team USA overnight in eighth, and is within striking distance of a top-six finish with a total time of 1:46.27.

“I really messed up my first run on the lower half of the track and it cost me,” Crumpton said. “I’m thankful I was able to move up a few spots in the second run.”

Crumpton competed in his first international race just four years ago. The 2016 World Championships are his first four-heat race, and Crumpton said he’s going to enter Friday’s final runs like it’s a new competition.

“I really need to focus on recovering and getting my legs back up to speed before tomorrow,” Crumpton said. “I’ll get my sled back into tip top shape and I’ll try to relax and do something to take my mind off of the race.”

There are no surprises to the top three competitors after day one of racing. Latvian Martins Dukurs set the track record in the first heat with a time of 52.14 and leads the field with a two-run total of 1:44.64. Alexander Tretiakov lived up to his nickname as the “Russian Rocket” by posting blistering start times of 4.75 and 4.74. Tretiakov is currently 0.53 off Dukur’s pace with a combined time of 1:45.17 for second place. Korean Sungbin Yun is nipping at Tretiakov’s heels in third with a combined time of 1:45.19.

Antoine continues to fight an uphill battle with slower start times this season. His driving skill was apparent, racing from the 24th best start of the first heat to 10th position with a time of 53.18 seconds. Antoine bettered his start in the second run to 5.08, five-hundredths faster than the first heat, for a nearly identical run time of 53.19 seconds. Antoine capped the first day of racing in 11th place with a cumulative time of 1:46.37.

Brown drifted to the wall out of the start grooves and was late into the first corner, creating a problematic start to his first career World Championships. Brown was unable to recover from the early mistake and was in 17th after a first run time of 53.46 seconds. The emerging American had a much tidier second heat, accelerating to the finish in 53.12 seconds for the ninth fastest run of the heat. Brown, a former football, ice hockey and track and field competitor from Springfield, Mass., enters Friday’s final heats in 13th with room to move up with a two-run combined time of 1:46.58.

World Championship action continues Friday with the final heats of the men’s skeleton competition and the first two heats of the women’s skeleton race.

Thursday’s Results

1. Martins Dukurs (LAT) 1:44.64 (52.14, 52.50); 2. Alexander Tretiakov (RUS) 1:45.17 (52.49, 52.68); 3. Sungbin Yun (KOR) 1:45.19 (52.57, 52.62); 8. Nathan Crumpton (USA) 1:46.27 (53.22, 53.05); 11. Matt Antoine (USA) 1:46.37 (53.18, 53.19); 13. Kyle Brown (USA) 1:46.58 (53.46, 53.12).

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