LAKE PLACID, N.Y. - For members of the United States Luge Team, the dream of making an Olympic Team begins on Sunday morning at Mount Van Hoevenberg with the Norton National Championships and the first of two seeding races. The second and final seeding event takes place in Park City, Utah on Oct. 20.
All races will be streamed live by USA Luge, in conjunction with West World Media. Browsers only need to log on to www.usaluge.org for the complimentary coverage.
In addition, Sunday’s events will be a dash for cash as West World Media has contributed prize money for the top performers.
The three competitions (Norton Nationals and the two seeding races) will determine the composition of the fall World Cup squad. Nomination to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Team will come from the results of the five World Cup events scheduled in November and December.
For several days, luge athletes have been unable to take training runs this week in Lake Placid due to unusually warm temperatures, rain and wind. But a front came through the North Country Monday, bringing colder temperatures in tow that are more in line with early October.
"This time of year is tough with weather conditions," said U.S. head coach and sport program director Mark Grimmette. "It’s not easy to get fast ice. But the track crew is working day and night to give us the best conditions possible."
Sunday’s races, beginning at 8:00 AM weather permitting, will be held concurrently in men’s and women’s singles and doubles. The first two heats in each discipline will crown the Norton National champions. Each sled will then receive a third run. The combined time of the two fastest legs of the three will constitute the seeding race.
With the Opening Ceremony in Sochi (Feb. 7) less than four months away, training sessions and race runs have added significance. Sled projects are taking place with USA Luge partners Dow and Clarkson University, and Grimmette is looking forward to further exploring these technological advancements later in the fall. The team also continues to race on steel runners formulated by primary team sponsor Norton Saint-Gobain.
"At the moment, the focus is on athlete sliding, given the importance of the races," said the Olympic silver and bronze medalist. "Once the fall World Cup team is announced on Oct. 20, we’ll have a few weeks before the World Cup tour begins to test some of the new equipment."
All Norton National champions from last fall will return to defend their titles Sunday morning. The list includes men’s singles co-champions Chris Mazdzer, of Saranac Lake, N.Y., a 2010 Olympian and Tucker West, of Ridgefield, Conn., a Youth Olympic Games gold medalist.
Women’s national champion and 2010 Olympian Julia Clukey, of Augusta, Maine, and doubles winners Matt Mortensen, of Huntington Station, N.Y. with 2006 Olympian Preston Griffall, of Salt Lake City, Utah are also ready to hit the ice.
Above: Ty Andersen and Anthony Espinoza during training on October 10.