ALTENBERG, Germany - Meghan Sullivan led the U.S. skeleton team with a ninth-place finish in the first European Cup race of the season on the harrowing Altenberg course in Germany.
Athletes competed in a two-race series Friday and Saturday to kick off the circuit.
"After a disappointing team trials I was really looking forward to just having fun and feeling relaxed on my sled again," Sullivan said. "Normally, I would not say Altenberg is the easiest place to do that, but it turns out it was just what I needed."
Sullivan cut two seconds from her personal best finish time on the track and dropped her previous personal best push time from 5.95 seconds to 5.67 on the second run of the first race. She clocked a two-run total of 2:01.51 to kick off the tour with a top-10 finish in her first international race of the season. The young up-and-coming driver made a few mistakes in the second race and finished 14th with a combined time of 2:03.72.
Sullivan's teammate Lauri Bausch finished 14th and 10th with combined times of 2:03.24 and 2:03.17. Germans Tina Hermann and Maxi Just were 1-2 both days. Hermann earned double gold with times of 1:58.89 and 1:58.83, while Just posted total times of 2:00.11 and 2:01.01 to claim silver. Australian Melissa Hoar prevented a German sweep of the medals by finishing third in the first race with an aggregate time of 2:00.16. Kim Meylemans from Germany nabbed bronze with a total of 2:01.21 the second day.
Alex Ivanov was the top U.S. finisher in the men's division with 21st and 18th place finishes. Teammate Kevin McGlade was 28th and 25th.
Germans Axel Jungk and Dominic Rady were first and second both days. Jungk brought home gold with two-run totals of 1:55.39 and 1:56.01, while Rady was second with times of 1:56.36 and 1:56.95. Ruslan Sabitov from Russia was third in the first race (1:56.88), and Martin Rosenberger from Germany was the bronze medal winner in the second race (1:56.99).
"This is the most supportive group I have ever been on tour with and I am really excited to spend the rest of the season with them," Sullivan said. "The boys can make the worst situations hilarious."