John Daly is through the first step in his latest Olympic quest.
Daly, who saw a chance at an Olympic medal go awry in his final run of the Sochi Games, is a significant step closer to getting a chance to compete at the Pyeongchang Games this winter. He won the U.S. national men’s skeleton team trials, and was among six sliders selected Wednesday to start the season on the World Cup roster.
“You definitely don’t want to overlook the team trials, because it’s a big step for us,” Daly said. “I took it seriously, did what I had to do to win, but now it’s the hard focus heading into the games. That’s done, that’s over, and now it’s time to focus on Pyeongchang.”
Olympic bronze medalist Matt Antoine and Olympic veteran Katie Uhlaender joined Daly in getting picked for the World Cup team, along with Greg West, Kendall Wesenberg and Savannah Graybill. Other U.S. sliders picked for the national team and beginning the season on the Intercontinental Cup tour are Annie O’Shea, Megan Henry, Gracie Clapp-Taylor, Kyle Brown, Mike Rogals and Nathan Crumpton.
“The Olympic season brings out the best in all the athletes,” USA Bobsled and Skeleton CEO Darrin Steele said. “We saw some of the closest skeleton races we’ve seen in years and it was a real battle to make the team. It’s always exciting to see the proven veterans getting challenged by athletes moving up the rankings because it makes everyone better.”
Team trials for skeleton were a four-race series, and Daly won twice in Lake Placid, New York, to go along with finishing second and third in the races in Calgary, Alberta.
The Lake Placid wins seem they could set Daly up for a fast start to the season. The first World Cup races of the year are Nov. 9 and 10 in Lake Placid, the Americans’ home track.
“I personally think that’s a big deal,” Daly said. “It basically sets you up for the season. You can build on the momentum out of Lake Placid, and that helps you as the season moves forward.”
Daly and Antoine were battling for bronze at the Sochi Games going into the fourth and final run. Daly’s sled popped out of the groove at the top of the track when he started that final trip, sending him into out-of-control swerves and instantly ending any chance he had of reaching the podium. Daly said he was retiring after that race, then came back last year with a medal again on his mind.
This season, so far, so good. Daly has somehow balanced a full-time sliding schedule with a full-time work schedule — he was leaving Lake Placid on Wednesday to return to Washington, where he works in the ear, nose and throat division of the medical technology company Smith and Nephew. After a few days there, it’s off to the Olympic track in South Korea for preseason testing.
From there, back to Lake Placid for the start of World Cup.
“Am I trying to rewrite my ending? That’s a question I can’t even answer yet,” Daly said.
NOTES: The oft-delayed U.S. men’s bobsled team trials, which have been hampered by warm weather in Lake Placid, have been pushed back again. The four-man trials race is now scheduled for Friday, and will be followed by the announcement of the men’s national team. The U.S. women’s bobsled national team was unveiled Saturday. … USA Luge’s seeding races, which were scheduled to continue Thursday in Calgary, now will not resume until Oct. 28 and 29 in Lake Placid. High wind blew sand into the Calgary track, meaning sleds would be vulnerable to costly damage if they raced on the gritty surface — so the Americans are heading home and will resume training Monday in Lake Placid. USA Luge’s fall World Cup team will be announced after the seeding races.