USA Luge Women’s Doubles, Juniors Shine at New Austrian Luge Facility
by Gordy Sheer
Medalists at the women's doubles, Junior and Youth World Cup in Bludenz, Austria. L to R: Chevonne Forgan, Sophia Kirkby, Maya Chan, Reannyn Weiler, Marcus Mueller, Ansel Haugsjaa, Frank Ike and Aidan Mueller.
BLUDENZ, Austria - At the brand-new luge track in Bludenz, Austria the U.S. women’s doubles program, along with Junior and Youth age athletes, polished off a successful season at the final World Cup event of the season.
The track, located a few miles from Liechtenstein, used significantly different construction techniques when compared to other luge facilities. At 700 meters with six curves and a top speed of approximately 90 KPH, the goal was to significantly save on overall costs and to create a track ideal for development-level athletes. On all counts, the Bludenz course seems to be a success.
Speaking of success, the USA Luge women’s doubles/junior/youth programs have continued to bring in the medals from the first race of the season in La Plagne, France to the final race in Bludenz.
Women’s doubles, which will become a part of the Olympic-level World Cup tour next season, has been a strong point for the American program. In Bludenz, the duo of Chevonne Forgan Chelmsford, Mass. and Sophie Kirkby of Ray Brook, N.Y. took bronze, while Maya Chan and Reannyn Weiler were fourth. In the season-long points standings the order was revered, with Chan/Weiler taking the bronze and Forgan/Kirkby taking fourth overall. The two sleds were separated by one point, 366 to 365.
At all women’s doubles World Cup events, a ‘race within a race’ format was adopted, with Junior women competing amongst the general class age women. At the Bludenz event, the Chan/Weiler duo, of Chicago, Ill. and Whitesboro, N.Y. respectively, were third and took silver in the season’s overall points chase.
In Youth A men’s doubles, Aidan Mueller of West Islip, N.Y. and Frank Ike of Lititz, Pa. won bronze, with teammates Marcus Mueller of Brookfield. Wis. and Ansel Haugsjaa of Framingham, Mass. finishing fourth. The season-long gold medal was won by Mueller/Haugsjaa, with Mueller/Ike ranked fourth.
The doubles athletes also saw a successful run of medals competing individually in the Youth A men’s singles division. Aidan Mueller won in Bludenz and placed fourth in overall standings. Ansel Haugsjaa finished in the bronze medal position in the last race of the year and ranked fifth. Ike placed fourth and finished the season in 11th place, despite missing two events earlier in the season. Marcus Mueller was fifth in Bludenz, but grabbed second in the Youth A rankings on the strength of his three podium appearances this year.
In Youth A women, Sophia Gordon Sussex, Wis. ranked 9th overall but did not compete this weekend.
Matt Greiner of Park City, Utah was the lone entry in the men’s singles competition, finishing fourth. His season was shortened due to injury and he missed three races this season. However, he won the other two events he entered this year, good enough to give him a sixth place result in the overall standings.
In the Junior women’s division, Elena Morrison of Muskegon, Mich. was 12th, while Emma Erickson of Park City, Utah was 21st. They finished 13th and 15th respectively in the season rankings.
The team event saw Morrison, Greiner, and the Mueller/Haugsjaa sled finish seventh. The USA placed fourth in the overall World Cup.
The next and final race for the group will be the World Championships for women’s doubles and juniors. That event will take place in Winterberg, Germany from January 29-30.
For results and standings, visit www.fil-luge.org