PARK CITY Home is where the gold is.
For the second consecutive year, Utah native Zach Lund came to his home track at the Utah Olympic Park and won the gold medal in the men's skeleton event at the FIBT World Cup.
"It is always nice to come here with all my family and friends and perform well," said Lund. "I am comfortable being here, and I think it helped me to relax a little bit."
Last season, Lund's win on home ice springboarded him to an outstanding season as he captured the overall title. He hopes his win Thursday can do the same especially after struggling to an 11th-place finish last week in Calgary.
"I didn't handle coming in as the favorite very well last week," he said. "I wasn't mentally prepared for it. It was nice to come here to familiar surroundings. It kind of calmed me down a bit, and I was able to get myself into the proper frame of mind to be able to perform at the level I needed. Hopefully, I can use this win, stay in the form I need to repeat what I did last season."
The American men had a great day overall as Lund's teammate Eric Bernotas finished second to capture the silver medal. Lund's combined time of 1:38.41 was only .25 seconds faster than Bernotas.
"I am pleased with how I finished," said Bernotas. "You have to hand it to Zach, he turned in two great runs. I did what I wanted to do on the track, and I can only control what I do. Overall, I am quite happy with my performance."
On the women's side, American Katie Uhlaender proved she is a survivor.
Well, at least Survivor has affected the skeleton racer. She is just starting to get her groove back after taking some time away from the ice to work for the television show Survivor. After a seventh-place finish last week at Calgary, she improved dramatically to take the silver medal with a combined time of 1:41.09.
"I am starting to feel it again," said Uhlaender. "I took about a month off from the ice to go work for the show a couple months ago. I didn't think it would be that big of a deal, but last week I tried to hit the ground running, and I felt like I ran right through a blender."
Uhlaender said that the time away helped to clear her mind, but there simply is no replacement for the time spent sliding.
"There are just certain things that no matter what you try to do to compensate for it you can't," she added. "My mind is fully into it, but there are just little tiny adjustments and things that my body is still trying to catch up on."
While Uhlaender is still getting readjusted, Canadian Michelle Kelly is in perfect form. For the second consecutive week, she blew by the competition to capture the gold. Her time of 1:40.43 was over six-tenths of a second faster than any other racer, and a bigger gap than was between second place and seventh.
"I am just going out and having fun," said Kelly. "I am relaxed and enjoying myself. I've realized that this isn't the end-all of things. I know some of us athletes like to make it out that way, but at the end of the day, it really is just a race."Amy Williams of Great Britain finished third while Americans Courtney Yamada and Annie O'Shea were seventh and 10th respectively.