Hannah Neise wins skeleton World Cup opener; Hallie Clarke 2nd

WHISTLER, British Columbia — Olympic champion Hannah Neise of Germany won the opening women’s skeleton World Cup race of the season Thursday, while Hallie Clarke of the US tied for second in her debut and gave the American program its best finish in nearly six years.

Neise finished two runs in 1.47.40, while Clarke and Britain’s Brogan Crowley shared the silver with times of 1:47.58.

The 18-year-old Clarke — born in Canada, but now in her first season racing for the US and in a World Cup race for the first time — was the leader after the first run but couldn’t hold off Neise, who rallied to get her first World Cup gold.

Clarke’s silver was the first medal for the US in a World Cup skeleton race since Megan Henry won bronze at Igls, Austria, on Jan. 17, 2020. The last silver for the US in skeleton was Jan. 20, 2017, when Kendall Wesenberg was second at St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Kelly Curtis, who went to the Olympics last season for the US, was 11th on Thursday, and Wesenberg — in her return to the World Cup after a retirement — was 15th in the 16-woman field.

In the men’s race earlier Thursday, Britain’s Marcus Wyatt got his first win in 34 World Cup races. Seunggi Jung of Korea was second, and Britain’s Matt Weston was third.

Germany took the next two spots: Olympic silver medalist Axel Jungk was fourth, one spot ahead of reigning Olympic gold medalist Christopher Grotheer.

Austin Florian was ninth and 2022 Olympian Andrew Blaser was 14th for the US in what was a 15-sled men’s field.

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