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U.S.’s Katie Uhlaender is 6th in final shot at worlds

Skeleton racer Katie Uhlaender of the United States slides down the icy track in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

ALTENBERG, Germany — Katie Uhlaender held back tears at the finish, disappointed that she fell back into sixth place in her final skeleton World Championships Friday.

“I really wanted a top four,” said Uhlaender, of Breckenridge, Colorado. “It was the little things. I was a little loose today, but I gave it my all.”

A top-four finish in World Championships would have secured a spot on the 2021-22 national team for Uhlaender. She was in fourth place until the fourth and final run.

“I’m so disappointed,” Uhlaender said. “I wish I could have solidified that spot.”

Uhlaender’s first career World Championships were in 2005, when she finished seventh in Calgary, Canada. Sixteen years later, she said that this year will be her last career World Championship appearance.

“I’m happy to be here,” Uhlaender said. “I didn’t expect to come back this season and to be where I am right now.”

Kendall Wesenberg (Modesto, California) finished 19th, and Sara Roderick (Truro, Massachusetts) was 24th in her World Championship debut.

Uhlaender nearly matched Thursday’s start times with pushes of 5.66 and 5.63 seconds Friday. She maintained fourth position with a downtime of 58.60 seconds in the third heat.

The battle for the medals was down to the hundredth in the fourth and final run. Uhlaender threw down a downtime of 58.83 seconds, but Germany’s Sophia Greibel and Russian Alina Tararychenkova turned it up in the finale. Greibel and Tararychenkova moved ahead of Uhlaender, tying for fourth place. As a result, Uhlaender finished sixth with a four-run combined time of 3:54.88.

“I’m holding back tears,” Uhlaender said. “I had it; it was so close.”

Team Germany secured the gold and silver medals. Tina Hermann moved up from third to win the title with a total time of 3:52.97. Jacquelline Loelling claimed silver in 3:53.08, followed by Russian Elena Nikitina in third with an aggregate time of 3:54.65.

Wesenberg posted identical start times of 5.89 seconds in both of Friday’s runs. She navigated to the finish in 59.07 seconds and 59.46 seconds, and lost some time against the competition on day two. The 2018 Olympian finished 19th with a four-run combined time of 3:57.88.

Roderick had a much improved push time of 5.55 seconds Friday, compared to her best push time of 5.61 in yesterday’s opening heat. She raced to the finish in 1:00.09 for a three-run combined time of 3:01.22. Roderick missed the top-20 cutoff for the fourth and final heat, finishing 24th in her debut.

Fans can watch the races on NBCSN, OlympicChannel.com and the Olympic Channel.

The USA Bobsled and Skeleton Federation is based in Lake Placid, which is the teams’ primary training base.

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