Twenty women entered the 2015 International Shootout in the Red Bull Crashed Ice Downhill World Championships with only 16 being able to advance to Saturday night’s finals. After the qualifiers were run, the 16 top times were chosen with 13 qualifiers coming from North Americans, 8 Americans and 5 Canadians, and three Europeans taking the final spots.
While the North Americans dominated the qualifiers, it was a competitor from Finland that established that she is the one to beat. Salla Kyhala not only finished with the best qualifying time (49.57), but her second run time (51.12) was also better than any other time of her fellow competitors. Her winning qualifying time was 2.68 seconds ahead of the next fastest competitor. Kyahala was born in Tuusula, Finland, but now resides in Saskatchewan, Canada. At just 27, she has already established herself as one of the leading women’s competitors, and is not afraid to use her strength to aid her in competition.
Trailing Kyhala were two Canadian, Myriam Trepanier and Gwynne Attenborough. Trepanier’s first run locked her in the No. 2 spot, finishing in 52.25 seconds. Attenborough qualified in the third spot on her second run of the qualifiers, finishing just .26 seconds behind Trepanier at 52.51. The Canadians added three other qualifiers into the top 10. Tamara Kajah finished fifth (53.69), Jacqueline Legere was sixth (53.82), and Jessica Mahler came in tenth (59.20).
Eight Americans skated their way into Saturday night’s finals. Sydney O’Keefe of Prior Lake, MN is America’s brightest hope in this race, finishing fourth in the qualifier. O’Keefe was in last year’s finals and has the skill and speed to keep the crown in Minnesota, and there is no doubt that she will have a large cheering section on hand for Saturday’s event.
Three other Americans finished in the top 10. Michaela Michaelson (56.42) came in seventh, Sadie Lundguist (57.26) was eighth, and Emma Krieter (58.00) in ninth. The four other American finalists are Ashley Jean Birdsall (11th at 59.53), Juliane Jubinville (13th at 59.64), Jenna Westerham (14th at 1:00.09), and Haylea Schmid (15th at 1:04.55).
Two other Europeans advanced in the International Shootout. Austria’s Alice Zenz finished 12th with a time of 59.62 seconds. Russia’s Vera Chernus earned the final spot with a run of 1:05.02.
The finals for this competition will begin Saturday night at 6:30 CST in St. Paul, MN.
By Robert Pannier