USA Luge National Team announced for 2021-2022 Olympic season
by Sandy Caligiore
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – A blend of race veterans with a collection of younger athletes – a group numbering 14 and with 10 Olympic team berths amongst them - will comprise the USA Luge National Team in the 2021-2022 Olympic season in an announcement the organization made Friday (April 30).
The national team is led by Pyeongchang Olympic silver medalist and three-time Olympian Chris Mazdzer, 2019 World Championship bronze medalist Emily Sweeney, five-time World Cup winner Summer Britcher, three-time World Cup winner Tucker West, and World Cup and World Championship medalist Jayson Terdiman. Additionally, Britcher, West and the doubles team of Mazdzer/Terdiman grabbed a 2020 World Championship bronze medal in the team relay, and finished fourth in the same event in their COVID-shortened 2021 campaign.
Also named to the squad was 2020 overall Nations Cup winner Jonny Gustafson. A group of graduating juniors moving onto the national team includes Brittney Arndt and Ashley Farquharson. All are candidates for Beijing, and intend to push their more seasoned teammates over the course of the qualifying period which will extend into January 2022.
Gustafson and Arndt registered their first-ever top 10 World Cup results in the 2019 winter season, while Farquharson, fourth at the 2019 Junior World Championships, as a newcomer to the national team in 2019, nearly medaled in her World Cup debut and was the U23 World Championship bronze medalist in 2021.
There are nine Eberspacher World Cup races on the slate, with the Games site of Beijing providing bookend events to the international season. The opening World Cup is slated for the Yanqing Olympic track in late November. The season will conclude with the Olympic races at the same venue in early February. Due to the pandemic, USA Luge’s 2020-2021 season was curtailed to the second half of the World Cup tour and the World Championships.
USA Luge will nominate its Olympic squad January 10 after the seventh World Cup competition, slated for Sigulda, Latvia.
THE NATIONAL TEAM IS AS FOLLOWS:
--Chris Mazdzer (Saranac Lake, N.Y.), 2018 Olympic silver medalist, three-time Olympian, 2020 World Championship bronze medalist, underwent shoulder and elbow surgeries in March 2020
--Tucker West (Ridgefield, Conn.), three-time World Cup winner, 10 World Cup medals, two-time Olympian, 2020 World Championship bronze medalist, among the fastest starters in the world, seven-time Norton USA Luge Start Champion
--Jonny Gustafson (Massena, N.Y.), entering his fourth season racing World Cup, 2020 Nations Cup champion, bronze medalist in 2020 U23 World Championships, two seventh place results in Sprint races are his career best results to date
--Jayson Terdiman (Berwick, Pa.), multiple winner of World Cup and World Championship medals, third place in 2016-2017 World Cup season, two-time Olympian now racing with his third doubles partner (Mazdzer), 2020 World Championship bronze medalist, underwent shoulder surgery in February 2021
--Summer Britcher (Glen Rock, Pa.), USA Luge all-time singles leader with five World Cup victories, fifth-ranked in the 2020 World Cup with three silver and one bronze medal, two-time Olympian, 2020 World Championship bronze medalist, third in the World Cup standings in 2018 and 2019, World Cup bronze medal in 2022
--Emily Sweeney (Lake Placid), two silver medals and one bronze in truncated 2019-2020 season, 2019 World Championship bronze medalist and 2018 World Cup bronze medalist (both achievements in an abbreviated 2018-2019 season), 2018 Olympian
GRADUATING JUNIORS ADVANCING TO THE NATIONAL TEAM:
--Brittney Arndt (Park City, Utah), 21st place in overall 2019-2020 World Cup standings, top individual results to date are fifth place in 2018 Lake Placid World Cup Sprint, sixth place in 2018 Lake Placid World Cup singles
--Ashley Farquharson (Park City, Utah), U23 World Championship bronze medalist in 2021, 17th place in overall 2019-2020 World Cup rankings in her rookie season, fourth place in 2019-2020 Lake Placid Sprint race, fourth place in 2020 U23 World Championships, fourth place in 2019 Junior World Championships, Norton Junior National Champion from 2017-2019
--Sean Hollander (Lake Placid), the 2020-2021 Junior World Cup season was canceled due to COVID-19, had four top 11 results in 2019-2020 Junior World Cup, made World Cup debut in 2020 season finale
--Zack DiGregorio (Medway, Mass.), the 2020-2021 Junior World Cup season was canceled due to COVID-19, had three top 10 results including a Junior World Cup silver medal in 2019-2020, made his World Cup debut in January-February 2020
--Dana Kellogg (Chesterfield, Mass) and Duncan Segger (Lake Placid), the young doubles team won the first Junior World Cup race two years ago in Koenigssee, Germany, but by the second half of the 2020 season, they received three World Cup starts and showed steady progress with results of 20th, 16th and 11th places, did not race internationally in 2020-2021 due to pandemic (trained in Lake Placid all season)
--Zack DiGregorio (Medway, Mass.) and Sean Hollander (Lake Placid) have become a new doubles team, both are also versatile athletes who can slide in singles as well
--Chevonne Forgan (Chelmsford, Mass.) and Sophie Kirkby (Ray Brook, N.Y.), now paired together in women’s doubles that will hopefully be included in the 2026 Winter Olympics