Sweeney, Kellogg/Segger win first selection races as Park City camp winds down
by Sandy Caligiore
PARK CITY, Utah – Pyeongchang Olympian and 2019 World Championship bronze medalist Emily Sweeney won both runs Sunday afternoon at the Utah Olympic Park as USA Luge continued their World Cup selection races at the tail end of a sliding camp in the Wasatch Mountains.
These selection events will set the team roster for the start of World Cup racing Nov. 20-21 in Beijing. A slot on the World Cup team is a mandatory step on the way to February’s Olympic Games at the Yanqing Sliding Center.
The doubles team of Dana Kellogg and Duncan Segger also cruised to victory in their return to race action. After making their World Cup debut at the end of the 2020 season, the pandemic prevented them from traveling abroad last year.
After two men’s races earlier this month in Sochi, warm weather in Lake Placid forced a delay of the women’s and doubles competitions until the team arrived in Park City.
“This training week in Park City has been very good,” said Robert Fegg, USA Luge Head Coach. “From day one we had great ice. The track crew was challenged by warm weather first and rain towards the end of the week, but was able to provide good ice conditions for every single training session which gave us the chance to do some further equipment testing prior to the training week and the World Cup in Yanqing.”
With temperatures in the mid-40s, Sweeney, of Lake Placid, posted two trips down the 2002 Olympic track that totaled 1 minute, 29.800 seconds to turn back a pair of Park City athletes. Ashley Farquharson, whose second heat time came within 0.04 of a second of Sweeney, took the runner-up spot in 1:30.080. Brittney Arndt finished third in 1:30.960.
Summer Britcher, of Glen Rock, Pa., a two-time Olympian and the all-time USA Luge leader in World Cup singles victories with five, did not compete as she is exempt from qualifying after a sixth-place performance in the 2021 World Championships.
Kellogg, of Chesterfield, Mass., teamed with Segger, of Lake Placid, for a pair of heats totaling 1:30.234. That bettered the second-place sled of Zack DiGregorio, of Medway, Mass. and Sean Hollander, of Lake Placid by almost 0.5 over the two legs.
Chevonne Forgan, of Chelmsford, Mass., and Sophie Kirkby, of Ray Brook, N.Y. were 0.8 behind the leaders after one run, but did not finish their second attempt.
In addition to Britcher, 2018 Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer and double Olympian Jayson Terdiman are also absent from the Park City race lineup.
Mazdzer, who makes his home in nearby Salt Lake City, broke his foot nearly three weeks ago in Sochi. Mazdzer revealed earlier this week that he also has a broken bone in his ankle. The tour’s only singles and doubles racer is getting medical attention with the goal of sliding next month on the 2022 Olympic track. He has the chance to represent Team USA in three events (singles, doubles and team relay) less than four months from now.
With Mazdzer sidelined, Terdiman, of Berwick, Pa., Mazdzer’s doubles partner, is in Park City getting singles training as he awaits his teammate’s return. When they finally collaborate on the doubles sled, Mazdzer/Terdiman will debut new equipment, built by German Olympic medal-winner Andre Florscheutz, that will hit the ice this season.
The Park City camp and selection races conclude Monday afternoon with all three disciplines taking the ice. Upon conclusion, the World Cup team will be officially announced.
“It was important to have a good week right at this moment….to leave the pre-season on a good note,” added Fegg.The athletes will get a respite next week prior to embarking on their extensive travel and competition schedules that resume in Beijing in early November and culminate at the Olympic site in February.