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Bascue and Williamson pick up season-opening gold at NAC race

LAKE PLACID — Codie Bascue and Josh Williamson led the men’s field in USA Bobsled Team Trials after a gold medal performance in the opening two-man bobsled North American Cup race of the season Monday, Nov. 18.

Team Bascue finished almost a quarter of a second ahead of reigning two-man bobsled Olympic champion Justin Kripps from Canada. Geoff Gadbois and Kris Horn claimed the bronze medal as the second Team USA finisher, while Hunter Church, of Cadyville, and Adrian Adams narrowly missed the North American Cup podium in fourth.

“Everyone did great tonight, and it’s fun to get the first race under our belts,” said USA Bobsled Head Coach Mike Kohn. “The athletes were helping each other out tonight, and I’m excited to see how well they are working together. We still have three races to go, but to start the season by finishing ahead of the reigning Olympic champion is a great way to start.”

Bobsled trials were originally scheduled to take place in Park City, Utah, but an unexpected track repair led to the cancellation of races. Trials were moved to Lake Placid, and are taking place in conjunction with the first North American Cup event of the season.

Six women and 12 men will be named to the 2019-2020 USA Bobsled National Team on Thursday, Nov. 21. Three men’s and two women’s spots have already been locked up thanks to USA Bobsled National Championship wins in March 2019. Bascue, Williamson, and Jimmy Reed have already earned their spots on the men’s team, while Reinbolt and Gibbs have already been named to the women’s team.

In Nov. 18’s opening North American Cup race, Canadians Kripps and Benjamin Coakwell matched Bascue and Williamson at the start with the fastest push time of the heat, 5.14 seconds. Bascue, who learned how to drive a bobsled in Lake Placid’s junior program, pulled ahead by 0.25 seconds to take the lead with a run of 55.25 seconds. 

Kripps and Coakwell edged closer to the lead with the fastest downtime of 55.73 seconds compared to Team Bascue’s 55.76 seconds, but it wasn’t enough to surpass the Americans. Bascue and Williamson claimed the season’s first win with a combined time of 1:51.01 after sliding to the finish in 54.76 seconds.

“This feels great,” said Bascue, of Whitehall. “I had a rough offseason and wasn’t able to train much because of problems with my back. Under those circumstances, it feels petty awesome to get a win in our first race of the season with the first and second start times of the race. I think it’s a good sign to start the season this way, and I’m really happy with how Josh performed today. Hopefully this is the start of a great season for me and the guys.”

Kripps and Coackwell earned silver for Canada with a total time of 1:51.23, followed by Team USA’s Gadbois and Horn. The Americans pushed start times of 5.21 and 5.20 for runs of 55.69 and 56.02 seconds, respectively, to earn bronze.

Church and Adams finished 0.21 seconds behind their teammates to finish fourth in 1:51.92 with runs of 55.73 and 56.19 seconds. The pair clocked push times of 5.27 seconds and 5.26.

Monobob, which was announced as a new women’s discipline for the 2022 Winter Olympics last year, also competed. The U.S. fielded two sleds driven by rookie Venessa D’Arpino and team veteran Shelby Williamson. Williamson finished eighth with a two-run total of 2:00.16. D’Arpino, in her first-ever race, finished 12th. 

Canadian Cynthia Appiah was victorious in 1:57.65 followed by Yooran Kim from Korea in second with a total time of 1:58.23, and Ashleigh Werner from Australia in third with a combined time of 1:58.28.