Austin Florian, at 15th, is top American man
ALTENBERG, Germany — Austin Florian of Southington, Connecticut, finished 15th as the top American finisher in the men’s skeleton World Championships in Altenberg Friday.
Austin McCrary of Colleyville, Texas, who made his debut, finished 29th.
“What’s great about a four heat race is that anything can happen, especially on a track like Altenberg,” said USA Skeleton Head Coach Tuffy Latour, who lives in Saranac Lake. “Austin Florian and Austin McCrary are still learning and fine tuning things, and while they are disappointed with their finishes, there are a lot of takeaways from today. Even some of the greatest athletes in the field struggled, so there’s always something to learn.”
Florian’s start times were 5.06 and 5.04 seconds Friday, compared to his best push time of 4.98 Thursday. He was in 10th place at the halfway point, but a complicated third run of 58.18 seconds was 21st of the heat. Eager to reclaim spots, Florian posted a final run time of 57.71 seconds and finished 15th with a four-run combined time of 3:50.67.
The most decorated skeleton athlete in history, Martins Dukurs of Latvia, also wrestled with the track Friday. He had a rough final run and dropped behind Florian into 16th place. Reigning Olympic champion Sungbin Yun from Korea also dropped back to finish 17th.
McCrary made his World Championship debut on what is known as one of the most challenging tracks in the world. He was in 29th place after a third run time of 59.12 seconds, and missed the top 20 cutoff for the fourth and final heat.
Athletes from team Germany and Bobsled Federation Russia claimed the top six positions. German Christopher Grotheer won his second consecutive World Championship title with a cumulative time of 3:46.31. Alexander Tretiakov from Bobsled Federation Russia earned the silver medal in 3:46.59, and Germany’s Alexander Gassner claimed bronze in 3:47.51.
World Championship racing continues Saturday with the mixed skeleton team event.
The USA Bobsled and Skeleton Federation is based in Lake Placid, which is the teams’ primary training base.