Americans upbeat for skeleton worlds

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LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) -- Latvia's Martins Dukurs and German star Marion Thees are ready to defend their titles at the Skeleton World Championships.

Competition begins Thursday morning at Mount Van Hoevenberg just outside Lake Placid with the first two runs of the women's race. Annie O'Shea and Katie Uhlaender are sliding for the United States.

Despite finishing seventh and 10th, respectively, in World Cup, well behind overall winner Shelley Rudman of Britain, the American tandem is pumped to be back on home ice.

O'Shea, of Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., had a breakthrough season, earning her first World Cup medal, a silver at La Plagne, France in December. She also owns the track record at Lake Placid.