Lea Ann Parsley, the gutsy skeleton racer who is also a firefighter from Granville, Ohio, won a spot Thursday on the U.S. Olympic team. She did it the hard way, beating the Swiss on their own track to open up an additional Olympic spot for the United States.
In the final World Cup race at St. Moritz, Switzerland, the American women had to do the seeming impossible in order for the second-ranked U.S. woman, Parsley, to join the team. They had to beat the Swiss on their own track, a course that none of the three U.S. athletes had raced on before.
If they succeeded, moving at least into third place in world rankings ahead of the Swiss, this country would have two spots on the Olympic skeleton team rather than one. That first spot belongs to Salt Lake City's Tristan Gale, 21.
In today's fifth and final World Cup race, Canada's Michelle Kelly made her best effort of the season, winning by one-hundredth of a second. But the silver belonged to Parsley.
Tricia Stumpf, Park City, was sixth, while Gale was tenth.
In overall national rankings, Canada is first, with 264 points, while Germany and the United States tied for second, at 247. Switzerland dropped to fourth with 241 points.
On the men's side, Chris Soule of the United States won the race, ending a four-race winning streak by Switzerland's Gregor Stahli. Lincoln DeWitt, Park City, was sixth.
"Obviously, we're happy with our performance at St. Moritz and happy to have Lea Ann join Tristan on the woman's side," said Julie Urbansky, public relations director for the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, Lake Placid, N.Y. With great results from both men's and women's teams, she said, "we're just ecstatic."