- Associated Press - Friday, December 16, 2016

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) - Olympic champion Alexander Tretiakov of Russia won the gold medal at a World Cup men’s skeleton race on Friday, holding off Matt Antoine of the U.S.

Tretiakov finished his two runs at Mount Van Hoevenberg in 1 minute, 46.49 seconds. It was the first competition since international officials elected to pull this season’s world bobsled and skeleton championships out of Russia, where Tretiakov won his Olympic gold in 2014.

Antoine was second in 1:46.92. South Korea’s Yun Sungbin was third in 1:46.94.

Tretiakov, Yun and Antoine have shared the medals in each of the first two World Cup stops this season. Latvia’s Martins Dukurs, the seven-time reigning overall World Cup champion, failed to reach the podium for the second time in as many races, placing fifth on Friday behind his brother Tomass Dukurs.

The silver was the best finish of Antoine’s World Cup sliding career.

“He’s stronger, he’s faster, he’s a lot more competitive at the start and it’s put him in a great position at the start,” U.S. skeleton coach Tuffy Latour said. “We’re really excited about where Matt is right now and looking forward to carrying it into the second half of the season.”

Antoine was third after the first heat, then rallied in the second to claim the silver. The air temperature was minus-14 when the competition started Friday morning.

“I think this is the coldest weather I’ve ever raced in,” Antoine said. “Fortunately yesterday, we got the opportunity to slide, which gave us an idea of what it was going to be like today. On the whole, I’m pretty happy with my runs, there were a couple of small mistakes that I’d maybe like to have back. But overall, I’m pretty pleased.”

Also for the U.S., Nathan Crumpton was 11th place and Kyle Tress was 19th.

The women’s skeleton race at Mount Van Hoevenberg starts Saturday morning.

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