Ro, Florian win the USA Skeleton Push Championship

Mystique Ro gets in position to push off for her final run during the USA Skeleton Push Championship at Mount Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid on Tuesday. (Enterprise photo — Parker O’Brien)

LAKE PLACID — Austin Florian and Mystique Ro earned the top spots in the men’s and women’s divisions, respectively, at the USA Skeleton Push Championships at Mount Van Hoevenberg this week.

The push championships marked the start of the season before athletes travel for other competitions prior to the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Unlike the Bobsled Push Championships, the USA Skeleton Push Championships were not used to determine the national team roster which had been previously announced on Sept. 6.

USA Bobsled/Skeleton CEO Aron McGuire said the event will help the athletes gauge where they are in their training as they head into the season.

“Part of it is for fun, part of it is great to recognize how important it is to start a skeleton race,” McGuire said. “The last part is for the athletes to see where they are in terms of their fitness, and terms of their speed, as they enter the season.”

Austin Florian pushes off during Tuesday’s USA Skeleton Push Championship at Mount Van Hoevenberg. (Enterprise photo — Parker O’Brien)

“It’s a good way to measure where you are at and where you were throughout the whole season,” Florian said. “It’s hard now because it’s the first time we have ever raced anything on it, so we don’t have any data for what is fast and what is not. But it’s a good gauge to see how you feel and how you stack up against everyone else.”

Florian was among three national team members who competed in the event. He took the top spot on the men’s side. The other two national team members who competed were Dan Barefoot and Stephen Garbett.

“I felt good,” Florian said. “We’re working towards heading to Beijing. We’re heading to Beijing for our international training week, next week. Getting ready to start the season. It feels good to start off with some good pushing. I’m really happy we have the icehouse to start training.”

Rounding out the top three for the men were Darryl Payne, Jr. and Austin Hayes.

Hayes, who took second place, said he was very nervous and his first run was not good at all.

“I was thinking too much I was trying to get out way too hard and I got unbalanced and had to jump on it way too early,” Hayes said. “The second one I forgot everything I did in the first one. I just let it flow and I was able to get a little further into the run and I felt a lot smoother.”

For the women, Ro had a lightning-quick start time as her final push was under 5 seconds, a feat only she accomplished among the women competing on Tuesday. Ro claimed the top spot.

“For the past couple of weeks, I have been dealing with a quad injury, but I’m glad the adrenaline kicked in when it did it was very helpful,” Ro said.

Ro said the push championships will provide a range of what the team is looking for. She said she will look to work on certain techniques that we can apply to other tracks outside of Lake Placid.

Behind Ro was Michelle Toukan in second and Leah Fair in third.

The athletes will travel to Beijing, the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics, for a test event next week. The team will then compete in double World Cups in Europe and other competitions prior to the 2022 Winter Olympics.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today