Medals continue for USA Luge in Lake Placid
by Lauren Howe
Lake Placid World Cup Day Two
Team USA women close out EBERSPAECHER Luge World Cup weekend with four medals
Farquharson and Forgan/Kirkby silver, Britcher and Sweeney bronze
LAKE PLACID, N.Y.—The U.S. women closed out today’s EBERSPAECHER Luge World Cup with four medals across the singles, singles sprint, and doubles sprint races today in front of a home crowd at Mt. Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid.
It was also the final race for 2018 Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer, who was greeted by family, friends, and fellow athletes and coaches on the finish deck following the men’s sprint race.
After the first run, which placed 2022 Olympian Ashley Farquharson in second, Emily Sweeney in fourth and Summer Britcher in fifth, it was Britcher (Glen Rock, Pa.) who pushed through in the second heat, bringing home the bronze medal in one minute 29.117 seconds. Britcher has five World Cup victories, the most in U.S. luge singles history.
“I'm always going for it, and I'm happy to see that paid off today,” said the three-time Olympian Britcher. “It's been a long time coming and it's been a while since I've been on the podium. It's been a tough couple of years, so I'm really happy. I've got some wonderful supporters over here in the crowd that came up to see me.”
While Farquharson (Park City, Utah) had a clean second run, it wasn’t enough to make the podium, and she bumped down to fourth place with a time of 1:29.147. Sweeney (Lake Placid, N.Y.), who led the U.S team during last season’s World Cup by collecting medals in women’s singles, sprint, and team relay competitions, hit the wall out of curve 10 and landed in eighth place in 1:29.373. Sweeney was in medal contention after the first heat.
This weekend’s World Cup was the first for Emma Erickson (Park City, Utah), who placed 20th with a time of 1:30.196
Just two-tenths of a second separated the gold and silver, with Madeleine Egle of Austria standing at the top of the podium with a time of 1:28.710, while Germany’s Julia Taubitz placed second in 1:28.898.
Women’s Singles Sprint
Sprint races feature the top 15 athletes in each discipline based on their finish in the World Cup races, with the time for the single-heat sprint races beginning at a lower point on the track than traditional races, placing an emphasis on driving skill over speed at the start. Instead of a start time, initial velocities are displayed. Points earned during the sprint races count toward overall World Cup points.
Just a few hours separated the women’s singles race and the women’s sprint race, but the U.S. team was ready to slide. With the top 15 women competing in the sprint, Farquharson slid to near perfection earning the silver medal in a time of 37.550, with Sweeney coming back strong and taking the bronze in 37.565. The gold went to Taubitz who crossed the finish in 37.451. Britcher landed in fifth with a time of 37.622, and Erickson did not qualify to compete.
“I know that sprint is just one run, and we're working on [consistency for] two [runs], but it's really nice to show this much speed this early in the season,” said Farquharson.
Following the combined singles and singles sprint races, Taubitz leads the overall World Cup point standings with 185, with Egle in second with 160. Farquharson leads the U.S. team with 145 points, followed by Britcher in fourth with 125, Sweeney in fifth 112, and Erickson in 20th place with 21 points.
Women’s Doubles Sprint
The American duo of Chevonne Forgan and Sophie Kirkby took the silver medal in a time of 38.443. The 2022 Winterberg, Germany World Cup silver medalists Forgan (Chelmsford, Mass.) and Kirkby (Ray Brook, N.Y.) executed a clean run and entered the finish deck to loud cheers from family and friends.
“Yesterday was good and today I just decided to chill out a little bit," said Forgan. “It felt like a really good run. We are feeling good, and we want to kind of ride this out for the next World Cup for sure.”
As the team travels to Whistler, British Columbia, next weekend, the duo is getting excited. “Whistler has nothing but good vibes and beautiful location,” said Kirkby. “I can't wait to go on that nice smooth track and really catch those curves.”
Austria’s Selina Egle and Lara Kipp secured the gold in a time of 38.340, with Dajana Eitberger and Saskia Schirmer of Germany in third in 38.477.
Americans Maya Chan (Chicago, Ill.) and Reannyn Weiler (Whitesboro, N.Y.) placed sixth in 38.806.
Egle/Kipp are the current overall World Cup women’s doubles leaders with 200 points, followed by Eitberger/Schirmer with 155, and Forgan/Kirkby in third with 145. Chan/Weiler are in sixth place with 100 points.
Men’s Singles Sprint
While the men’s sprint served as the farewell race for Mazdzer (Salt Lake City, Utah), it proved challenging for the American men’s field.
2022 Olympian and Massena, N.Y native Johnny Gustafson led the U.S. men today, placing ninth in a time of 33.765. Three-time Olympian Tucker West (Ridgefield, Conn.) landed in 12th in 34.046, with Mazdzer in 13th in 34.107. Hunter Harris (East Fairfield, Vt.), who finished his first World Cup race on the National Team, was 15th in 34.203.
Germany’s Max Langenhan won gold in a time of 33.257, with teammate Felix Loch in second in 33.560.
Langenhan is the current overall World Cup leader with 200 points. In second place is Austria’s Jonas Mueller with 145, and in third is Nico Gleirscher of Austria with 140. Gustafson is in seventh with 94 points, West in eighth with 92, Mazdzer in 13th with 62, and Harris in 15th with 52 points.
Men’s Doubles Sprint
2023 Lake Placid World Cup gold medalists and 2022 Olympians Zack DiGregorio and Sean Hollander couldn’t find the speed in today’s race and placed sixth with a time of 38.094, while teammates Dana Kellogg (Chesterfield, Mass.) and Frank Ike (Lititz, Pa.) landed in 11th in 38.463.
The gold medal went to Martins Bots and Roberts Plume of Latvia who crossed the finish line in 37.872, with the silver medal going to Austria’s Thomas Steu and Wolfgang Kindl in 37.877. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobia Arlt were third with a time of 38.019.
Steu/Kindl are the World Cup leaders with 170 points, with Bots/Plume in second with 160. DiGregorio/Hollander are in third with 150, and Kellogg/Ike are tenth with 70.
EBERSPÄCHER Luge World Cup action continues next weekend in Whistler. The World Championships are slated to take place in Altenberg, Germany on January 27-28, 2024. To live stream the races and to view archived competitions from Lake Placid, please visit the FIL’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@FILLuge_Channel. The entire World Cup and World Championship season can be accessed from this portal.