Henry pushes into the top 10

WINTERBERG, Germany — Megan Henry posted two top-10 finishes Saturday in Winterberg, Germany to once again lead USA Skeleton on the Intercontinental Cup. Henry finished eighth and 10th, while Mike Rogals (Orwell, Vermont) was the top American man with 14th and 13th place finishes on one of Germany’s more intricate tracks.

“It was much faster than training, but I love that and the unique challenge it brings, requiring us to adapt and execute,” said Henry, of Roxbury, Connecticut. “We had one training day canceled due to snow and then today was actually great race conditions. Winterberg is notorious for having wild weather, so I’m happy we had at least one good race.”

Henry, who earned bronze in last week’s season opening stop in Igls, Austria, was in 11th place after a first run time of 58.68 seconds. She hit out of curve nine, which Henry said “really threw away my momentum in the first run.” She rallied back in the second run with a time of 58.22 seconds, sixth best of the heat, to move up three spots into eighth with a total time of 1:56.90.

“Most of us haven’t been here in years,” Henry said. “I was really hoping to push much faster here, but this start ramp is kind of long and flat and I need to adjust my approach.”

While Henry wanted to push faster, she was dominant off the start block with the fastest push times of 5.29 and 5.28 seconds.

Olympic medalist Laura Deas from Great Britain was victorious in 1:55.72. Former World Cup champion Janine Flock of Austria finished second with a combined time of 1:56.02, followed by Anna Fernstaedt from the Czech Republic in third with a two-run total of 1:56.08. 

American Samantha Culiver (Scottsdale, Arizona) finished 17th with a combined time of 1:58.00 with runs of 59.03 and 58.97 seconds. Veronica Day (Vienna, Virginia) posted a total of 1:58.68 for 20th place after sliding to the finish in 59.56 and 59.22 seconds.

In the second competition Saturday, Henry again led USA Skeleton with a 10th-place finish. Henry had the ninth best time of the first run, 58.43 seconds, and the 11th best time of the second run, 58.61, for a total time of 1:57.04.

“Today was fairly frustrating in terms of placement, but I was happy with my progress at the top of the track,” Henry said. “Caleb (Smith) made some adjustments in my plan of attack in between runs which was promising, but I really lost time at the bottom.”

Henry wasn’t as fast at the start Saturday with push times of 5.37 and 5.34 seconds, which Henry felt contributed to her slower downtimes.

  “My pushes were really not there today, which was disappointing, and doesn’t help in a short track like Winterberg,” Henry said. “Overall I learned a lot in the short time here, and it was really awesome to compete against such an accomplished field.”

Deas, Flock and Fernstaedt were repeat medalists. Deas took gold in 1:55.79, Flock claimed silver in 1:55.80 and Fernstaedt earned bronze in 1:56.23.

Day moved up to 17th with a combined time of 1:58.54. The American pushed start times of 5.62 and 5.60 seconds for runs of 59.26 and 59.28 seconds, respectively. Culiver was 20th with a two-run total of 1:58.86 after posting times of 59.43 and 59.43 seconds.

In the men’s field, Rogals was the top American finisher both days. In Friday’s race, Rogals considered his first run his worst all week, but that he was able to “feel the waves and pressures of the track in a way that I never had before.”

“The new information helped on my second run, which was easily my best to date on this track,” Rogals said. 

He improved his time from 58.09 in the first run to 57.12 in the second heat. Rogals moved up four spots into 14th with a total time of 1:55.21.

“On the men’s side, we are still having issues putting together two solid runs in a row,” Rogals said. “It’s a very subtle track, so it’s very easy to over-steer and kill speed. And with it being so subtle, it’s even more difficult to feel the moments of opportunity to build speed as you navigate the track.”

Nathan Crumpton (Park City, Utah) and Stephen Garbett (Colorado Springs, Colo.) finished 16-17. Crumpton posted identical start times of 5.05 seconds for runs of 58.01 and 57.36 seconds to finish 16th with a cumulative time of 1:55.37. Garbett was two-hundredths behind his teammate in 17 with a total time of 1:55.39. Garbett pushed start times of 5.18 and 5.13 for runs of 57.92 and 57.47 seconds, respectively.

Seunggi Jung from South Korea claimed gold in 1:53.03. Kilian Freiherr Von Schleinitz from Germany was second with a total time of 1:53.19, followed by Marcus Wyatt from Great Britain in third with a combined time of 1:53.29.

Rogals was consistent Saturday off the start block with push times of 5.32 and 5.33 seconds. The team veteran slid to the finish in 57.86 and 57.49 seconds for a two-run combined time of 1:55.35 to finish 13th.

Crumpton was close behind his teammate in 15th with an aggregate time of 1:55.50. Crumpton posted starts of 5.07 and 5.09 seconds for runs of 57.92 and 57.58 seconds. Garbett finished 22nd. He slid a run of 58.30 seconds in the first heat and missed the cutoff for the second run by 0.21 seconds. 

The same three athletes medaled Saturday, but in a different order. Freiherr Von Schleinitz was victorious in 1:53.55, followed by Wyatt in second with a total of 1:53.67 and Jung in third with a combined time of 1:53.68.

The Intercontinental Cup tour will be on break until January, when it will resume on home ice in Park City, Utah from Jan. 18-19. The final stop of the tour will be in Lake Placid from Jan. 24-25.

“We are all very much looking forward to having two races in the U.S.,” Henry said. 

Many of the athletes that competed on the first two stops of the Intercontinental Cup will now join the World Cup circuit, which kicks off in Sigulda, Latvia from Dec. 7-9.