Uhlaender caps first half with victory in La Plagne

LA PLAGNE, France (Dec. 15, 2012) – Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) won the La Plagne women’s skeleton World Cup event today to become the first female slider to win two World Cup races this season. Uhlaender took her first season victory in Park City, Utah three weeks ago, and was determined to climb the medal stand after two disappointing results since.

“I got here and decided to stop thinking about results or training and to have fun again,” Uhlaender said. “I mentally got into a funk after some major errors over these last few races, and I knew I had to stop worrying about results and stay in the moment.”

A blunder at the start last week edged Uhlaender out of qualifying for a final run, and the reigning world champion was devastated. Only a handful of runs have been outside of the top three standings, but those erroneous runs have been enough to keep Uhlaender from the podium all but once. Uhlaender displayed her tenacity and perseverance by bouncing back to claim gold one week later.

“I’m ready to go fast on every track, and I’m a lot more comfortable on my sled after making some changes to my saddle on my sled,” Uhlaedner said. “This is a really technical and fast track, and it’s a lot like Lake Placid. I have a lot of fun here.”

Uhlaender burst off the block on a mission and was the first run leader by a substantial margin of 0.31 seconds. The two-time Olympian extended her lead to 0.49 seconds in the final heat to pocket gold with a combined time of 2:08.22.

“That one was for the cows and for everyone at home,” said Uhlaender, who owns cattle on her family’s ranch in Rawlins County, Kansas.

Canadian Sarah Reid and German Marion Thees tied for a distant second to Uhlaender with a two-run total of 2:08.71.

Kimber Gabryszak (Park City, Utah) struggled to find rhythm with her sled on the technical La Plagne course. Gabryszak was tied with Dutch athlete Joska Le Conte for 17th after the first heat, and the American hoped to move up in the final run. A battle at the exit of 16 scrubbed time, and Gabryszak’s total time of 2:11.04 bumped her into 18th.

1. Katie Uhlaender (USA) 2:08.22 (1:03.98, 1:04.24); 2. Sarah Reid (CAN) 2:08.71 (1:04.21, 1:04.50); 2. Marion Thees (GER) 2:08.71 (1:04.29, 1:04.42);…18. Kimber Gabryszak (USA) 2:11.04 (1:05.35, 1:05.69);

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