USA Luge Season Wrap: National Team finishes World Cup season with nine medals
by Lauren Howe
National Team earns a combined 58 top ten World Cup finishes, 11 at World Championships
LAKE PLACID, N.Y.— The USA Luge National team finished the 2022-2023 World Cup circuit in late February, wrapping up a season that saw luge racing back in the U.S. for the first time since 2019 with a medal count led by Emily Sweeney and the relay squad of Sweeney, Tucker West, Zack DiGregorio and Sean Hollander. The doubles team of Chevonne Forgan and Sophie Kirkby also made an appearance on the World Cup podium.
The National Team, which included all eight members of the 2018 Beijing Olympic team, finished the season with nine medals and 58 top ten World Cup finishes, including 11 top ten finishes at the World Championships in Oberhof, Germany.
Emily Sweeney (Lake Placid, N.Y.) led the U.S. team during the nine stop World Cup season, bringing home seven medals across women’s singles and team relay competitions. She kicked-off her campaign with a silver medal in both the women’s singles and women’s singles sprint in Igls, Austria.
Coming back to the U.S. in December, the two-time Olympian earned another silver medal in Park City, Utah. Sweeney, who is dealing with lingering effects from a crash at the 2018 Olympics, took a few weeks of rest in January. The down time forced her to miss the 2023 World Championships in Oberhof, Germany, but she eventually came back to the circuit in Winterberg, Germany where she placed third. Sweeney finished the season third overall in women’s sprint, adding an overall World Cup trophy to her collection. She was also fifth in the traditional overall World Cup.
The season also saw Brittany Arndt make her first appearance on the World Cup podium. Arndt (Park City, Utah) took the bronze medal in the women’s sprint race in front of family and friends on her home track in Park City. She also secured her personal best in a World Championship, placing eighth in Oberhof.
Summer Britcher (Glen Rock, Pa.) and Ashley Farquharson (Park City, Utah) completed the women’s national team. Olympian Britcher secured seven top five finishes. She also placed fifth in the team relay at the World Championships with fellow teammates Tucker West and the duo of Zack DiGregorio and Sean Hollander. 2022 Olympian Farquharson scored three top-five finishes during the season, including a career-best fourth place finish in the Park City sprint.
While the season saw 2018 Olympic Silver Medalist Chris Mazdzer back on the ice in North America, it was Tucker West and Jonny Gustafson who represented the team in men’s singles throughout the season.
2022 Olympian Gustafson (Massena, N.Y.) earned his best-ever result in the men’s sprint in Park City, placing fourth. World Cup winner and three-time Olympian West (Ridgefield, Conn.) placed tenth in the overall World Cup rankings.
Mazdzer (Salt Lake City, Utah) placed tenth at the races in Whistler, Canada, and Park City.
Following their first Olympic appearance in Beijing, Zack DiGregorio (Medway, Mass.) and Sean Hollander (Lake Placid, N.Y.) posted a career-best result in Park City, placing fourth. The duo raced in their first World Championships since becoming a team a year and a half ago, taking the gold in the U23 World Championships. They also got their first taste of the World Cup podium, anchoring Team USA in all three medal-winning performances.
Teammates Dana Kellogg (Chesterfield, Mass.) and Duncan Segger (Lake Placid) achieved a best-ever result, placing eighth in the Park City World Cup.
Last season, women’s doubles made their World Cup debut, racing concurrently with Junior World Cup events. This year, the women’s doubles were fully integrated into the World Cup tour.
Leading the team was the duo of Chevonne Forgan and Sophie Kirkby with 12 top ten finishes and placing fifth in the World Cup points tally. Forgan (Chelmsford, Mass.) and Kirkby (Ray Brook, N.Y.) won silver in Sigulda, their best-ever result.
Maya Chan (Chicago, Ill.) and Reannyn Weiler (Whitesboro, N.Y.) placed fourth overall in women’s doubles sprint and earned eight top ten finishes. In the traditional World Cup standings, they placed seventh, despite still being eligible to compete as Juniors.
Sweeney and Britcher announced they were going to compete in women’s doubles last November and raced in the first three events of the season. They planned a limited second half of the season, which was further hampered by Sweeney’s injury challenges and prevented the duo from additional racing.
Sweeney joined three-time Olympian West and the 2022 Olympians DiGregorio/Hollander in a successful year in team relay competition. The team secured one silver medal and two bronze medals in the six-race series and ranked fifth in the season’s points total. Team USA also placed fifth in the World Championships led by Britcher, West and DiGregorio/Hollander.
The 2022-23 National Team was coached by Lubo Mick and Kaspars Dumpis and Martin Hillebrand. The Team Manager was Jakub Simonak, with Caroline Kannel serving as Athletic Trainer.
Junior National Team
The USA Luge Junior National Team also had a successful string of nine podium finishes, including a Junior World Championship bronze medal won by Marcus Mueller (Brookfield, Wis.) and Ansel Haugsjaa (Framingham, Mass.) in men’s doubles. Mueller/Haugsjaa placed third in the overall World Cup, winning medals in all but one of the six Junior World Cup events. Aidan Mueller (West Islip, N.Y.) and Matt Greiner (Park City, Utah) also won medals in the men’s singles division. Mueller also placed fourth in the season-long standings.
The Junior National Team is coached by Pat Anderson and Arturs Darznieks, Keith Younger served as Team Manager and Tori Lam was the team’s Athletic Trainer.
Jon Owen, Zach Layton, Aidan Kelly, Jayson Terdiman and Sam Day were responsible for coaching development-level athletes domestically and overseas.
The USA Luge Natural Track team saw Katie Cookman place 12th overall in the women’s World Cup after the six-race season. She placed 13th at the World Championships in Deutschnofen, Italy. Torry Cookman (Marquette, Mich.), Zane Farnsworth (Marquette, Mich.) and Jacob Sterk (St. Michael, Minnesota) placed 18th, 19th and 22nd in World Cup points, respectively. At the World Championship men’s race Torrey Cookman (Marquette, Mich.) was 17th, Sterk was 21st and Farnsworth was 23rd. Keith Whitman served as the team’s coach.
The 2022-23 season concluded in Lake Placid on April 2 with the Masters National Championship. Elizabeth Murphy (Brookline, N.H.) won the women’s competition, Logan Gastio (Highland, N.Y) won the men’s race and Tony Shimkonis (Wilmington, N.C.) took gold in the senior division.
Most members of the National Team will spend their spring and summer in Lake Placid at the USA Luge indoor start training facility in preparation for the 2023-24 season. The team also makes significant use of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center located next to the USA Luge facility.
For more results on the 2022-2023 World Cup season, visit https://bit.ly/3yYNCXS.