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Hallie Clarke becomes youngest world champion in skeleton after switch from USA

Hallie Clarke became the first teenager to win a world championship in skeleton, doing so less than a year after switching from the U.S. back to Canada.

Clarke, 19, prevailed by 22 hundredths of a second over Belgian Kim Meylemans combining times from four runs over the last two days in Winterberg, Germany.

“My goal for yesterday was to try and be in the top 10 after the first day,” said Clarke, who led after Thursday’s first two runs going into Friday’s final two runs. “Then goals changed a little bit when I knew it was possible.”

Clarke and Olympic gold medalist Hannah Neise of Germany were tied going into the last run. Neise ended up with bronze.

Clarke was born in Belleville, Ontario, primarily grew up in the U.S. in Orchard Park, New York, and Marlborough, Massachusetts, then moved to Calgary around age 14 due to her mom’s job.

She picked up skeleton in Canada and began sliding for that nation. She then switched to the U.S. before the 2022-23 season.

“I spent 13 of my 18 years there (in the U.S.), so I just felt like it was time,” Clarke said in 2022.

That season, Clarke had a pair of runner-up finishes on the World Cup at age 18.

Then last July, Clarke posted on social media, “In light of immigration difficulties, the best decision for me was to return to Canada” and added that the she was back “for good!”

Canada’s skeleton federation also stated that the September appointment of Clarke’s career-long personal coach, Joe Cecchini, as national team head coach “made the decision easy” for Clarke.

Clarke’s best World Cup finish this season going into worlds was seventh.

Also at worlds, Dutchwoman Kimberley Bos, the world’s top-ranked slider, had the fastest first run, then was 21st in the second run after problems getting her helmet on correctly before the start.

Bos ended up ninth overall, one spot behind the top American, Mystique Ro. The last U.S. men’s or women’s skeleton medal at worlds was in 2013 (Noelle Pikus-Pace’s silver).

In the men’s event, Olympic gold medalist Christopher Grotheer of Germany led after every run en route to his third world title. He prevailed by 23 hundredths over defending champ Matt Weston of Great Britain.

Grotheer, 31, won worlds in 2020 and 2021 and was 10th last year. Only retired Latvian Martins Dukurs has more men’s world titles with six.

Zheng Yin earned bronze to become the first Chinese medalist at a sliding worlds (bobsled, luge or skeleton).

Austin Florian was the top American in ninth.