New Yorkers lead U.S. contingent against mighty Germans
LAKE PLACID – New Yorkers Chris Mazdzer and Erin Hamlin, both Olympians, will lead the United States luge teams into their next stop on the World Cup tour, right here in the Olympic Village.
It will be the first time international luge racing has taken place on the 20-curve course at Mount Van Hoevenberg since the 2009 world championships, when Hamlin was crowned world champion.
World Cup racing begins Friday at 10 a.m. followed by the doubles events. Racing continues Saturday, with both the men’s singles and team relay events. The men will take to the track at 9:30 a.m. and their second run is set to begin at 11 a.m. The team relay race gets under way at 1 p.m.
The Nations Cup, which acts as a qualifier for Friday and Saturday’s World Cup events, will take place today.
Mazdzer, a Saranac Lake native, is coming off his best career finish after placing sixth in last week’s world championships in Whistler, British Columbia. Mazdzer clocked a two-run time of 1:37.124 to finish as the top American.
Olympic and defending world champion Felix Loch won his fourth world luge championship last week, coasting to victory on the 2010 Olympic track to lead a 1-2-3-4 sweep by his country on a night when German sleds took five of six medals in two events.
Loch, who is coached by his father and German head coach Norbert Loch, clocked two runs that totaled 1 minute, 36.375 seconds. That was well ahead of Andi Langenhan’s 1:36.750, followed by Johannes Ludwig in 1:36.775 for the bronze medal. David Moeller took fourth.
Taylor Morris, of South Jordan, Utah, was the second-best American with a personal-best 17th-place effort in 1:37.543. Morris is in his first full season racing internationally.
Loch’s teammates Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, winners of five of seven World Cup doubles events to date, were not threatened either in winning the gold medal ahead of compatriots Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken.
Wendl and Arlt had a two-heat aggregate time of 1:12.842. Eggert and Benecken won silver in 1:13.042.
Only Austrian brothers Andreas and Wolfgang Linger interrupted Germany’s dominance. The Lingers, two-time Olympic gold medalists and three-time world champions, captured the doubles bronze with a time of 1:13.268.
Matt Mortensen, of Huntington Station, and Preston Griffall, of Salt Lake City settled for 14th place, 0.9 of a second behind Wendl and Arlt.
Jake Hyrns, of Muskegon, Mich., and Andrew Sherk, of Fort Washington, Pa., missed the top 18 cut. They officially placed 21st based on their first heat time.
On the women’s side, Hamlin, a Remsen native, is also coming off a sixth-place finish at last week’s world championships with a time of 1:13.856.
Julia Clukey, of Augusta, Maine, the 2012 Norton U.S. National Champion, placed ninth in 1:13.984. Kate Hansen, 2008 World Junior Champion from La Canada, Calif., took 14th in 1:14.092. Recently crowned 2013 World Junior Champion, Emily Sweeney, of Suffield, Conn. missed the top 20 cut and wound up 22nd based on her first heat time.
Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger won her first luge world championship title, finishing with a combined time of 1 minute, 13.428 seconds on Saturday to edge teammate Tatjana Huefner.
Geisenberger settled for Olympic bronze in Whistler three years ago as Huefner won the gold medal. But after picking up five victories and two silver medals in seven World Cup starts this year, Geisenberger was on a mission that culminated with this title.
She recorded the two fastest runs down a course that has become much tamer than the one faced by many of these athletes in 2010. She clocked in at 36.688 and 36.740 seconds.
Huefner, the Olympic and two-time defending world champ, finished in 1:13.534.
Canadian Alex Gough earned a bronze with a two-run, combined time of one minute 13.546 seconds.