Qualifies first for US Skeleton team, named grant winner

By on November 12, 2014

While we are dealing locally with the leaves coming off the trees and the first of the sub-freezing temperature mornings, one of our own is preparing for a world class athletic adventure.

Savannah Graybill, a 2006 Cocalico High School grad, is going to Germany, Switzerland, France, Austria and Russia as the number one qualifier for the USA skeleton team.

Savannah Graybill, a 2006 Cocalico High School grad, is going
to Germany, Switzerland, France, Austria and Russia as the number one qualifier for the USA skeleton team.

Cocalico High School 2006 grad Savannah Graybill is going to Germany, Switzerland, France, Austria and Russia as the number one qualifier for the USA skeleton team.

Graybill was showered with two pieces of good news in the last seven days. The Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) announced on November 6 that Savannah would be a Travel and Training Fund Grant recipient of $4,000. This came at the start of the U.S. Women’s team trials in Park City, Utah. Graybill’s finish was announced at the end of the four day trials on Sunday.

“The team trials are the most stressful,” said Graybill by phone on Tuesday afternoon from Lake Placid, New York (she arrived there Monday at 3 a.m.). “They determine your future for the entire season. It’s a huge relief, a weight off my shoulders. In fact, it’s almost surreal.”

The site of the 1932 and 1980 Olympics will be her home for the next two weeks, as she trains for the first of the World Cup events the week of December 7 at Lake Placid. A short trip back to Denver for Thanksgiving is planned for the middle of that stretch. A second World Cup stop is scheduled the following week in Calgary, Canada, bringing the North American leg of the Cup to a close.

“There are four tiers of International competition during the skeleton season,” explained Graybill. “The North America Cup and Europa Cup are considered developmental tours. The Intercontinental and World Cups showcase the national teams. Based on last year, we qualified two women and three men for the World Cup.”

This is Graybill’s first season on the World Cup tour. Her second is veteran Annie O’Shea. The two will represent the US squad in the European leg of the Cup Tour for nine consecutive weeks after the first of the year.

“I’m so excited,” added Graybill. “Five of the tracks will be new to me, which will be a great learning experience.”

The final stop is the World Championships in that ninth week at Winterburg, Germany.

The Foundation Grant is also a first for Graybill, in her first year of application.

“To apply, you need to be an established athlete,” she said. “It was exciting and an honor. The main thing is that it takes away the financial stress. I hate asking people to support my dream.”

Two early purchases have already been made.

Savannah Graybill is shown during a run last year.

Savannah Graybill is shown during a run last year.

“I bought a new set of runners and new spikes,” said Graybill of the $1,100 purchase. “In the past there would have been a hesitation because of the money.”

Graybill also talked about the experience level on this year’s US team.

“We’re much deeper,” she said. “We want to get the maximum number of sleds (three) in each division. We’re working toward that, and other team goals.”

If the past eight months are any indication, Graybill will be right in the mix.

She captured the U.S. Nationals in March of this year, breaking the track record at Lake Placid in her first run. This was a step up from the silver that she took the year before. Add this to the first place finish in last week’s trials and the Cocalico graduate appears primed for her first tour.

“My goal is to be world champion and an Olympian,” said Graybill.

To that end, she spent the off-season at Lake Placid.

“A lot of sprints and strength training,” she said.

Her only time off from the five-to-six day per week training was a week at the beach with family in July and a quick trip home in September.

“The thing that I miss most is family and the ease to contact them,” he said. “I love to travel and to see the new places, but I do miss the family functions and the birthday parties.”

The secret to her success?

“Number one, you have to be a sprinter, and once on the sled you must be calm and relaxed. The only time you can steer is in the curve,” she said.

She has also qualified for Federation equipment. “I have a new Protostar sled, which is designed by NASA engineers,” she explained.

Pretty remarkable to have a world class athlete in our back yard, especially one that only took up the sport four years ago

About

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *