OBERHOF, Germany - Germany’s junior lugers must have been watching their older teammates at the Whistler World Championships. On Saturday, in Oberhof, they nearly emulated them to perfection on the final day of Junior World Cup racing in the region of Thuringia.
The German junior women swept the podium, led by gold medalist Nathalie Burkhardt, and finished with the silver and bronze medals in junior men. Only Emanuel Rieder, of Italy, got in their way by winning that division.
Germany topped the standings in the team competition, followed by Italy and Russia, with the United States fourth.
At the first night of racing at Whistler, Germany grabbed five of six medals. Junior classification is for racers to the age of 20.
Although a glance at the results would not readily produce any satisfaction for the U.S., there were several positive signs from the unprofitable day.
In women’s singles, Summer Britcher, of Glen Rock, Pa. was an uncharacteristic 13th. But the 2012 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) gold medalist ripped a second run with the fourth fastest time and improved eight places from 21st position. In fact, she was headed into the top 10 of the opening heat, but encountered difficulties near the end of the Oberhof course.
Raychel Germaine, of Roswell, Ga. was close behind in 16th place.
Tucker West, of Ridgefield, Conn., another member of the 2012 YOG gold medal team, continues to race up in class as he is still of youth age. West’s fast starts were evident again Saturday, but like Britcher, he lost time in the lower sections of the layout and wound up 14th.
West came back and contributed the fifth best clocking in the men’s heat of the team event.
Teammate Aidan Kelly, of West Islip, N.Y., took 15th in singles.
The doubles team of Ty Andersen, of Alpine, Utah (another 2012 YOG gold medal winner) and Anthony Espinoza, of Park City, Utah won the 2013 World Junior Championship bronze medal last month, and followed that with a pair of Junior World Cup bronze medals, all in very close contests. One of those occurred Friday, where gold and bronze were separated by just 0.03 of a second.
In the team competition, the duo threw down the second fastest run among the doubles team to elevate the U.S. to fourth place.
The American youngsters, with coaches Tony Benshoof and Fred Zimny, now move on to Igls, Austria for the penultimate Junior World Cup event of the season on Feb. 8-9. It’ll be held on the 1976 Olympic track outside Innsbruck.
The tour ends its winter Feb. 15-16 in Winterberg, Germany.