Five days of selection races begin team nomination process leading to Beijing Winter Games
by Sandy Caligiore
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – USA Luge has scheduled selection races over five days this month to finalize its team for the start of World Cup racing in late November in Beijing. The competitions move forward as 2018 Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer prepares for surgery on Wednesday to repair a broken foot incurred a week ago in Sochi.
Qualification for the opening five World Cups is a mandatory first step for athletes seeking a berth on Team USA. The American World Cup squad will produce the 10 nominees for February’s Olympic Games. Those competitors will be announced in mid-January after the seventh of nine meets on the Eberspacher World Cup tour.
Men’s selection races are set for Oct. 8 and 10 in Sochi, and Oct. 16 in Lake Placid. To see where his team stacks up against one of the outstanding European squads, USA Luge head coach Robert Fegg is putting his charges up against Italy on Friday in a “friendly”. All disciplines will participate with the Italians, although only the U.S. men are sliding for selection points.
The first two dates are scheduled on the 2014 Olympic track where Erin Hamlin won the team’s first-ever Olympic women’s and singles medal. USA Luge is currently in the second week of a two-week camp at the site. Thereafter, the U.S. team will return to Lake Placid for a home stint Oct. 12-16 and conclude the week with the final men’s selection race.
The field will include two-time Olympian Tucker West along with Jonny Gustafson.
Women and doubles selection competitions are slated for Oct. 16 in Lake Placid, followed by a pair in Park City, Utah on Oct. 24-25. The team will train at the Utah Olympic Park, site of two U.S. Olympic doubles medals in 2002, from Oct. 20-25.
The team’s Lake Placid and Park City training camps will be their lone appearances in the U.S. prior to Beijing.
The women’s field will be highlighted by 2014 and 2018 Olympian Summer Britcher, 2018 Olympian Emily Sweeney, the Park City duo of Brittney Arndt and Ashley Farquharson, as well as Chevonne Forgan.
In doubles, three sleds will be comprised of Dana Kellogg and Duncan Segger, Zack DiGregorio and Sean Hollander, and Forgan with Sophie Kirkby.
Mazdzer is racing both singles and doubles, but after the broken foot, he is sidelined along with doubles partner Jayson Terdiman. Together, they account for five previous Olympic berths. Mazdzer intends to return to on ice training next month on the new Olympic course in Beijing. The entire circuit will arrive in early November to catch up on lost sliding opportunities due to the pandemic and related travel restrictions.
World Cup action begins there with pre-Olympic races on Nov. 20-21.
SELECTION RACE PARTICIPANTS (SINGLES)
Tucker West (Ridgefield, Conn.)
Jonny Gustafson (Massena, N.Y.)
Summer Britcher (Glen Rock, Pa.)
Emily Sweeney (Lake Placid, N.Y.)
Ashley Farquharson (Park City, Utah)
Brittney Arndt (Park City, Utah)
Chevonne Forgan (Chelmsford, Mass.)
SELECTION RACE PARTICIPANTS (DOUBLES)
Dana Kellogg (Chesterfield, Mass.) and Duncan Segger (Lake Placid, N.Y.)
Zack DiGregorio (Medway, Mass.) and Sean Hollander (Lake Placid, N.Y.)
Chevonne Forgan (Chelmsford, Mass.) and Sophie Kirkby (Ray Brook, N.Y.)