Austria’s Flock wins women’s World Cup skeleton opener

November 9, 2017

Janine Flock, center, of Austria, poses with Elisabeth Vathje, left, of Canada, and Lizzy Yarnold, right, of Britain, after placing first in the women's World Cup skeleton race in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. Vathje was second and Yarnold placed third. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan)

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) — Janine Flock always seems right at home in Lake Placid.

The Austrian broke her own Mount Van Hoevenberg track record Thursday on the way to winning the first World Cup women’s skeleton race of the Olympic season. It’s the second straight season that Flock won in Lake Placid, where she has also claimed a silver and a bronze in previous stops.

“It’s a hard and a tough track,” Flock said. “I like to be more focused and more concentrated, because it’s very hard. It’s very rough, it’s bumpy, it’s not good for your head. But it’s a special, nice track with nice, round, cool rhythm. Yes, I love Placid.”

That was evident less than a minute into her season.

Flock’s first run was 54.69 seconds, taking 0.15 seconds off the track mark that she set last month — and was a time that ended up more than three-tenths of a second better than any other slider’s best on Thursday. She was significantly slower in the second run, yet still prevailed by 0.26 seconds with a two-run time of 1 minute, 50.13 seconds.

“It’s awesome. It’s the best thing that can happen for me,” Flock said. “It’s the best thing when you start the season with a good result.”

Canada’s Elisabeth Vathje was second in 1:50.39, and reigning Olympic gold medalist Lizzy Yarnold of Britain was third in 1:50.46.

Vathje got off the ice and leaped into her mother’s arms in celebration. Vathje hasn’t yet qualified for the Pyeongchang Games, but Thursday’s result obviously was a major boost in that effort.

“She’s going to be at all the races this year,” Vathje said of her mother, Rita. “She gets accreditation so she can be part of the action and she’s a massive part to my success. She just keeps me chill and helps me be such a head case. So I’m really thankful for her — and thankful she can catch me.”

Reigning World Cup overall champion Jacqueline Lolling of Germany was eighth. The top American was Katie Uhlaender, who finished ninth. Savannah Graybill was 11th and Kendall Wesenberg took 14th for the U.S.

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