LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Three skeleton athletes who call the Utah Olympic Park’s their ‘home track’ competed in the Push National Championships held in Lake Placid, New York on Friday. Andrew Whittier tied for second place which, in a sport which is measured in the hundreth of seconds is a rarity.
Lake Placid boasts the only sliding sports indoor push track in the United States.
After the race winner, Austin Florian, finished with a combined two-run time of 9.62 seconds, Whittier shared the podium tier, one step below, with Darryl Payne Jr. both coming in at a combined skeleton push start time from their two runs at 9.74 seconds.
Whittier is from Pocatello, Idaho which makes his two-and-a-half hour drive to Park City the only option. You’ll hear no complaints out of his mouth about that commute as he’s simply happy to have the opportunity to slide. Whittier told TownLift, “Most of my Idaho friends and family think it’s super cool that I skeleton, however, it’s pretty funny because a family friend came down to Utah and watched me slide in Park City but once she saw how fast we were going she said that my mom was never allowed to go watch.” Regarding this competition in New York, he said, “This push start event was awesome. This is an amazing atmosphere and being able to train and race with all these world-class athletes is next level.”
Just off the literal podium but in third place with another rare tie was Utah’s Bradley Nicol. He and Dan Barefoot both posted combined start times of 9.80 seconds.
Nicol, in Lake Placid from his hometown of Springville, Utah was sure to send a shoutout to his relative in Heber City, the longtime local barber for the last 45 years. Nicol drives the hour north to slide in Park City every day during the winter season. Nicol’s uncle is a four-time skeleton Olympian representing S. Korea with his first Games in Salt Lake 2002, so as he sprints down the iced indoor track today, he’s following in some big footsteps. He proudly represents Utah as he travels far and wide. Nicol told TownLift, “I really enjoyed the event today. I always look forward to Push Champs as the mark of a new season, so this is just a good sign. I’m really excited for what’s around the corner, going into my third year, so, a lot of developments is going to happen this year that I’m excited for it all.”
Nick Brooks’ time also came in under 10 seconds at 9.99. The West Jordan High School alum currently resides in Draper. He told TownLift, “It’s great to be able to have this push event once a year. It’s a good internal Team USA competition where we get the opportunity to utilize this nice facility.”