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World Cup luge season begins Nov. 29-30 near Innsbruck, Austria | Nov 25, 2014
IGLS, Austria - The 2014-2015 World Cup luge season begins this weekend at the site where it became an Olympic sport 51 seasons ago, and will include the brand new sprint World Cup. Igls, Austria, just a few minutes from the two-time Winter Olympic site in Innsbruck, will host the opening races Nov. 29-30 on Patscherkofel Mountain. USA Luge has a nine-athlete contingent preparing this week for the races where the Games occurred in 1964 and 1976. The track is shorter than most, resulting in races that are closer than usual, if that’s possible in a sport timed to the thousandth of a second. Igls also hosted the first winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012 where American juniors won a gold medal in the team relay. Two members of that unit, Tucker West and Summer Britcher, have advanced their careers to United States national team status and raced in their first Olympics last February in Sochi. The World Cup opener adds a new event to the sport as the sprint World Cup makes its debut on Sunday. Responding to athletes desires to have more races, the International Luge Federation (FIL) created a one-run shoot-out where athletes pull from the handles and paddle aggressively down an “approach” zone. This brings the sled to the start line where the clock begins. It’s further down the course from the normal timing mechanism. Fastest time wins. Only the top 15 in each discipline are eligible to compete. “I am personally excited about the sprint World Cup because it will add a new dynamic to the World Cup season, and hopefully catch a new viewing audience,” stated FIL athlete spokesman Chris Mazdzer of Saranac Lake, N.Y. “Although the athletes are essentially doing the same thing that we always do, this adds a new element to sliding and will make World Cup weekends more exciting.” The first of six team relays, which made its Olympic debut at the Sochi Olympic Winter Games, will be held Dec. 6 when the tour comes to Lake Placid. The last time the international racers were together was nine months ago in Sochi. Eight Olympic medal winners, including American bronze medalist Erin Hamlin, will get their new World Cup seasons underway. “It’s been a long pre-season,” said Hamlin of Remsen, N.Y., who enters the new campaign after victories at the Lillehammer Cup in October and her sixth Norton National crown in November. “We’ve had some great training. It was nice to get on a lot of different tracks. We had a lot of runs and had a busy schedule. Now going into race week it feels nice to relax, ironically, and get some runs in as well. I’m excited to race, finally. It feels good.” Germans Natalie Geisenberger and Tatyana Huefner, the 2014 gold and silver medalists, respectively, will be in the Austrian Tyrol for the start of competition. Hamlin is one part of a U.S. women’s squad that also includes 2010 Olympian and World Cup silver medalist Julia Clukey, of Augusta, Maine; 2013 Junior World Champion Emily Sweeney, of Suffield, Conn. and Britcher, of Glen Rock, Pa. One of three men’s Olympic medal winners has returned for a new season. Felix Loch, also of Germany, collected his second Olympic title in Sochi, but silver medal winner Albert Demchenko of Russia and Armin Zoeggeler of Italy, have retired. Demchenko had two Olympic medals, and Zoeggeler departed with six in as many Olympic appearances. Mazdzer, a two-time Olympian and six-time Norton National Champion, enters the season after a career-high fifth place overall World Cup finish last winter. He achieved this on the strength of consecutive World Cup silver medals at Whistler, Canada and Park City, Utah last December. Mazdzer’s Sochi teammates, Aidan Kelly and West, are looking to gain more experience at the sport’s highest level. Kelly has all the physical tools and made significant gains with his off-season training. West, known in the pre-Olympic run-up for his backyard luge legacy at the family’s Ridgefield, Conn. home, is one of the circuit’s fastest starters. He was the youngest U.S. male to ever qualify for the Olympics in singles. The doubles division brings two Olympic medalists to Igls. Olympic Champions Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, of Germany, and the Sics brothers of Latvia, Andris and Juris, bronze medal winners, are ready for the new year. USA Luge will enter a new doubles team in the World Cup. Matt Mortensen of Huntington Station, N.Y. and Jayson Terdiman of Berwick, Pa. have raced and trained together since March. They competed in Sochi with different teammates. Mortensen and Terdiman have several domestic victories under their belts already, including the 2014 Norton National Championship. The U.S. duo will try to overcome a minor setback to Mortensen, who took seven stitches around his elbow after suffering a training run crash in Park City, Utah last week. The sutures will be removed next week. “So far so good. Training has gone really well,” said Mortensen. “We’ve had a lot of runs and that’s been good for Jayson and me. In a typical season we’ll get 80 or so runs in before the competitive season. This year we had over 120 runs so that was really good.” “I’m extremely comfortable,” added Terdiman. “Matt and I have had quite of bit of practice together. Each run we get more and more comfortable (together). We’re getting better communicating. If something does go wrong on the track, we talk it out and see what we have to do to make it better the next run. For me it’s getting more and more comfortable by the run.” Nations Cup qualifying will occur Friday for the athletes outside the first seed in each division. Clukey, Sweeney, West, Kelly and Mortensen with Terdiman will be in action looking to advance to the World Cup races. Race times in Igls are 3:30 AM Eastern Time (9:30 AM local time) on Friday; 3:40 AM Eastern Time (9:40 local time) on Saturday and 3:45 AM (9:45 local time) Sunday. There will be live timing and scoring on the FIL website all three days at www.fil-luge.org . Audio from today’s conference call: http://usaluge.org/team/TC112514a.mp3 (Tucker West, Aidan Kelly, Summer Britcher, Emily Sweeney) http://usaluge.org/team/TC112514b.mp3 (Erin Hamlin, Julia Clukey, Matt Mortensen, Jayson Terdiman)
Viessmann World Cup Luge Tour Returns to Lake Placid Dec. 5-6 | Nov 19, 2014
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – After opening the post-Olympic luge season near Innsbruck, Austria on Nov. 29-30, the second stop on the Viessmann World Cup tour will bring the fastest athletes on ice to Lake Placid on December 5-6. Training will commence on Wednesday, December 3. Nations Cup qualifying is set for Thursday, December 4. Doubles and men’s singles will be contested on December 5, with the day starting at 9:55 AM. Women’s singles and the team relay are slated for December 6 at 9:30 AM. The team relay will celebrate an anniversary of sorts in Lake Placid with the running of the 25th such competition since its inception in 2009-2010. “We welcome the FIL Viessmann World Cup back to the Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg and the two- time Olympic village of Lake Placid,” said Ted Blazer, President and CEO of the New York Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA). “It is enjoyable to see athletes, officials, family and fans back to this legendary track for thrilling competition in luge. Our staff at the track does an amazing job with the facility and combined with our event administrators we look forward to a memorable and exciting event.” The United States luge team will bring eight Olympians to their home track, led by Sochi Olympic bronze medal winner, 2009 World Champion and six-time Norton National Champion Erin Hamlin of Remsen, N.Y. In all, eight Sochi Olympic luge medalists are set to make the trip to Lake Placid, which last hosted a World Cup series in February 2013. On that frigid weekend nearly two years ago, Vancouver Olympian Julia Clukey of Augusta, Maine, and the U.S. relay team both scored World Cup silver medals and will try to use home ice to their advantage once again. It was a career high-water mark for the Maine luge racer. “Competing at home is crucial for the U.S. luge team and the sport of luge in our country,” said USA Luge President and CEO Jim Leahy. “It is very important that we display the excitement of luge and the progress of our program to the American audience, both at the track and on television.” The races will air on Dec. 16 with a two-hour presentation beginning at 7 PM Eastern Time on NBC Sports Network. Carr-Hughes Productions, based in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., is charged with the international television feed from Lake Placid and subsequent cable network program. Universal Sports will air the races on Dec. 10-11. Check local listings for airtimes. In addition to Hamlin, Germany’s 2014 gold and silver medalists, Natalie Geisenberger and Tatyana Huefner, respectively, will be in the Lake Placid lineup. Felix Loch, gold medal winner in Vancouver and Sochi, leads the men’s field that will include Chris Mazdzer, of Saranac Lake, N.Y. The two-time Olympian, also a recent winner of his sixth Norton National Championship, tallied a pair of World Cup silvers last season to propel him to fifth in the overall World Cup men’s singles standings. Mazdzer will be joined by Sochi teammates Tucker West of Ridgefield, Conn. and Aidan Kelly of West Islip, N.Y. West - 18 years old at the time - was the youngest male to ever qualify in singles for the U.S. Olympic luge team. Sochi silver medalist Albert Demchenko of Russia, a double Olympic medal winner, and 2014 bronze medalist Armin Zoeggeler of Italy have both retired. Zoeggeler departed with six Olympic medals, including two gold medals, in six Games. In addition to Hamlin and Clukey in the women’s field, 2014 Olympian Summer Britcher of Glen Rock, Pa. is ready to race at home along with 2013 Junior World Champion Emily Sweeney of Suffield, Conn. Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, who claimed the World Cup overall title in doubles last January and then went on to win the Olympic gold medal, have stated this preseason that their goal is to keep improving. That’s a direct message to their competition: elevate your game or get passed again. Austrian brothers Andreas and Wolfgang Linger, after two gold medals and a Sochi silver medal, have left the sport. However, two siblings from Latvia, are back. Andris and Juris Sics picked up their second Olympic bronze last February. A new U.S. doubles entry is set to do battle as Matt Mortensen of Huntington Station, N.Y. and Jayson Terdiman of Berwick, Pa. became a unit after Sochi. The twosome has shown steady progress since first racing together last March in the Norton seeding series where they finished first and second. Mortensen and Terdiman won the Norton U.S. title earlier this month. They competed in Russia with different teammates.
Dr. Gerry Tate elected President of US Luge Federation Foundation | Nov 10, 2014
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – At the Oct. 29, 2014 United States Luge Federation Foundation meeting, Dr. Gerry Tate, Ph.D. was elected the group’s new president, succeeding Doug Bateman, whose term had expired. From 1997 to 2014, Dr. Tate, of New Hope, Pa., served on the U.S. Luge Association’s National Luge Committee, which was the highest decision-making body in the sport of luge in the United States at that time. During his tenure with the USLA, he has been a member of several committees. As the Chair of the Interim Nominating Committee, Gerry helped to oversee the transformation of the USLA’s governance structure, including the creation of a new board of directors for the USLA. Dr. Tate was also a member of the By-Laws Review Committee, which revised and updated the USLA’s by-laws document, ensuring its compliance with federal and state laws, as well as with the U.S. Olympic Committee’s guidelines. Currently, Gerry chairs a joint USLA-USLFF Working Group tasked with putting forth recommendations for developing a fundraising component to the USLA. The USLFF was created as a result of the success and legacy of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. “USA Luge created the foundation to maintain that endowment, and the USLFF trustees over the years have done a phenomenal job of being stewards of that money,” stated Dr. Tate. “The funds are there for future generations of luge athletes. I’m committed with a deep belief that we must remain stewards. As we move forward, I would like to consider ways of growing the endowment. We have a fiduciary responsibility to insure that money is available for our current and future athletes.” In addition to maintaining the endowment, since its inception the trustees have dispensed over $1.7 million to the USLA through grants. Dr. Tate was an integral member of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Development Division management team from 1985 to 1992. As the Southern Regional Manager, Gerry organized and managed the USOC’s development operations, fund raising programs, and special events in a 13-state region in the southeastern and southwestern United States. He was recognized in 1992 for his outstanding service and dedication to the U.S. Olympic Committee in “carrying out the highest traditions of Olympism.” To this day, Gerry helps athletes through his private practice, assisting them in managing competitive stress and in developing mental toughness, resiliency, and confidence. He has also presented at international conferences on the topic of athlete transition. Additionally, he is a business partner and an owner of Endeavor Sports Performance, a sports training facility in Pitman, New Jersey. Also at the election, 1998 Olympian Erin Warren was re-elected Vice President, and Ray Wierzbicki was re-elected Secretary/Treasurer. Ron Rossi, 1984 Olympian, is the USLFF’s Executive Director.
Luge Team Returns to San Diego Wind Tunnel on November 11 | Nov 6, 2014
On November 11, USA Luge will return to the San Diego Wind Tunnel to conduct aerodynamic drag tests for the upcoming luge season. Two-time Olympian and World Cup medalist Chris Mazdzer will test new sled configurations, airflow patterns and race suit fabrics. The test will be conducted by USA Luge sport program director and two-time Olympic medalist Mark Grimmette, USA Luge technical program manager, Jon Owen, and the experienced San Diego Wind Tunnel crew. In a sport timed to the one-thousandth of a second, optimizing airflow is critical to succeeding at the international level. USA Luge has been testing at the facility since 2004. In addition to USA Luge athletes, virtually all of the top cyclists in the world for the past nine years have tested at the San Diego Wind Tunnel. The testing methodology, precise measurement equipment, and expert staff draw both world-class athletes and top aerospace companies from around the globe. The trip for the team is being made possible through a grant from the Henry Uihlein II and Mildred A. Uihlein Foundation. To date, the San Diego Wind Tunnel has conducted nearly 100,000 hours of testing and has been used extensively in numerous military and civil aerospace development programs, including those of the F-106, B-58, F-111, F-16, Global Hawk UAV, Tomahawk Cruise Missile, and Advanced Cruise Missile. In addition, it has recently served the testing needs of Cessna, Boeing, Gulfstream, Northrop Grumman, General Atomics, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin. As the only wind tunnel in the nation capable of performing low-speed flutter testing, Boeing has used the facility extensively to test its commercial airliners, from the 707 to the new 787 Dreamliner.
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