By JOHN KEKIS, Associated Press
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) — Katie Uhlaender has given the United States its second gold medal at the skeleton world championships since the women's competition debuted in 2000.
Uhlaender, of Breckenridge, Colo., finished the four heats over two days at Mount Van Hoevenberg in 3 minutes, 42.33 seconds. She beat Mellisa Hollingsworth of Canada by 0.17 seconds on Friday. Hollingsworth gained only 0.01 on Uhlaender over the final two runs.
Uhlaender also won silver at worlds in 2008 in Altenberg, Germany, and bronze the previous year in St. Moritz, Switzerland, when teammate Noelle Pikus-Pace won.
Elizabeth Yarnold of Britain took the bronze, 0.36 behind and just ahead of teammate Shelley Rudman, the World Cup champion. Olympic champion Amy Williams of Britain was fifth and two-time defending world champion Marion Thees of Germany was sixth.
Annie O'Shea of Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., finished 10th.
A snowstorm began moving into the region just as the competition got under way Friday morning. Uhlaender slid first and continued her consistency with a run of 55.62 seconds, giving her three runs within 0.13 seconds of each other.
Hollingsworth was even better, though, with her first three times within 0.07, and started the final run trailing by just 0.17. Rudman, in third, was 0.41 behind.
Yarnold's blistering third run of 55.40, the fastest of the two days of competition, allowed her to slice 0.22 off Uhlaender's lead and at least give Hollingsworth hope that one slipup by the American could decide the winner in what essentially was a race between two sleds.
Hollingsworth knows all about slipups, having been second at the Vancouver Olympics after three runs and not making the podium after a poor final run.
On this day, three of the top-five finishers logged identical times on the final run — 55.68 — including the top two as Uhlaender maintained her winning margin.
Cowbells reverberated around the mountain as Uhlaender made her way down the final time, extending her lead to as much as 0.35 halfway down the tricky 19-turn layout. Rudman had nearly toppled off her sled near the bottom on her final run, dropping her from medal contention, but Uhlaender slid smoothly through, the crowd erupting in applause midway down as they anticipated gold.
At the finish, Uhlaender popped open her visor and extended her arms forward in celebration after seeing her winning time, then quickly made her way toward the fans and began high-fiving them, jumping up and down in a gleeful celebration.