PARK CITY, Utah (AP) – Zach Lund won his first World Cup skeleton title and fellow American Katie Uhlaender took the women’s competition, giving U.S. sliders a first-place sweep on home ice Thursday.

Lund, the Salt Lake City native who had never finished higher than second in the World Cup, beat Canadian Jeff Pain by 0.16 seconds in the two runs at Utah Olympic Park.

Lund stood at the finish and watched as Alexander Tretiakov got off to a great start on the final run, but the Russian faltered in the middle and the American’s time held up for first.

Lund finished with a combined time of 1:38.15 (49.13-49.02). Pain, who won the season opener in Calgary, was second (1:38.31) and Tretiakov third (1:38.63).

Lund is coming off a one-year doping suspension, which cost him a spot in the Turin Olympics. He tested positive last November for Finasteride, a banned substance often used as a steroid-masking agent. It also is found in a hair-restoration product Lund used.

“I’m relieved,” Lund said. “I’ve been waiting my whole career for this day. It’s always been second and I really wanted to pull it out.

Lund’s victory came a few hours after Uhlaender remained perfect in the young World Cup season with her second victory in as many weeks.

Uhlaender held the lead after the first heat of the women’s competition kept it through the final run after several sliders had slowed near the end of the track.

“I wasn’t focusing on results,” said Uhlaender, who won easily and is 2-for-2 in the World Cup. “I try not to even listen to what’s going on because it’s not going to change what I do going down the hill.”

Uhlaender finished her heats in 50.11 and 50.79 seconds for a combined time of 1:40.90, which was 0.39 seconds ahead of Maya Pedersen of Switzerland (1:41.29). Michelle Kelly of Canada was third (1:41.60).

Uhlaender, who won last week’s opener in Calgary, will try for her third straight World Cup victory next week on her home track in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Uhlaender was the top American in Olympic skeleton last year, finishing sixth. She spent the summer in the Cook Islands, running and lifting weights to build up her leg strength for even faster starts on the ice.

It also cleared her mind, especially after the pressure of making the Olympic team a year ago.

“Just show up to throw down and so far it’s working,” said Uhlaender, a 22-year-old from Breckenridge, Colo.

Uhlaender led after the first run and was the last to go in the second run after several sliders lost time in the final few turns. She was fast enough on her start that it didn’t matter.

She had the fastest start of the day at 5.01 seconds in the second heat and easily navigated the curves that slowed her competitors as the sun warmed the ice.

Noelle Pikus-Pace, of Orem, Utah, finished sixth (1:41.93).


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