Antoine top U.S. slider
with 4th at Winterberg
The second half of the 2013-2014 Bobsled and Skeleton World Cup Tour opened the weekend of Jan. 3-5 in Winterberg, Germany. Located in the Hochsauerland district of Western Germany, the Winterberg weather is traditionally a factor in sliding races. Races have been held in blowing wet snow or rain and fog, and this year was no different. The men’s skeleton race, the first competition of the weekend, was held in a constant cold drizzle. The second heat was delayed as track officials waited for a shower to pass. Martin Havens, who called the race, compared the first two turns at the top of the Winterberg track to a waterslide. Twenty-seven men negotiated the wet track, and Matt Antoine slid to a fourth-place finish. His teammate John Daly finished fifth to place two Americans in the top six on a track normally dominated by Europeans.
“Matt is showing that he can be in the top four each race,” said Tuffy Latour, U.S. skeleton head coach. “John had another solid race today. This track has been one of our biggest challenges for the men, so even though the guys are disappointed with their results, today was really a success.”
Last year, Matt would have been pleased with a fourth-place result while recovering from knee surgery, but his expectations have changed for the Olympic year. With two World Cup medals under his belt this season, including his first-ever victory, Matt feels like he’s building at the right speed towards the 2014 Winter Olympic Games this February.
“I did everything I could to keep progressing, and in my mind I always knew it was going to come together this year,” Matt said. “It’s great to be in the mix every week, and I’m always pushing to be better. ‘Good enough’ isn’t good enough for me, it needs to be the best.”
Matt was the closest competitor to leader Latvian Martins Dukurs in the first heat with a run of 57.97 seconds, and he was hoping to maintain position to secure a silver medal. The veteran American made what he called a “catastrophic mistake” at the top, which scrubbed vital speed from his run. He could only muster the 11th fastest time in the second heat, but he dropped just two spots into fourth with a two-run total of 1:56.51.
“I know I can do a lot better,” Matt said. “I was in medal position and I should have maintained my spot. The top of the track bit me, which happens sometimes, but it shouldn’t on race day.”
“I’m really looking forward to next week,” Antoine said. “St. Moritz is definitely our track.”
Matt and the other men’s skeleton athletes will compete in two races the weekend of Jan. 10-12. Both races will be held on the track at St. Moritz, Switzerland, the birthplace of the sports of bobsleigh and skeleton. St. Moritz is the only natural ice track that hosts international competition.