EMILY SWEENEY PLACES FOURTH IN WORLD CUP FINALE
by Lauren Howe
Sweeney, Forgan/Kirkby place fifth overall for the season
WINTERBERG, Germany –The grand finale of the 45th FIL Luge World Cup season began today with the doubles and women’s singles races. It was the second time Winterberg, located in the Hochsauerland district of North Rhine-Westphalia, hosted a World Cup event this season.
American Emily Sweeney led the U.S. team today, placing fourth, just missing a podium finish to the season by .06 seconds. She finished fifth in the overall World Cup point standings. Teammates Chevonne Forgan and Sophie Kirkby placed fifth in today’s race and, like Sweeney, finished the season fifth in the overall World Cup points chase. In men’s doubles, Zack DiGregorio and Sean Hollander walked away from a crash in the second heat of competition but did not finish the race.
In a reversal of luge norms, Austria took two of three available gold medals at a German track. A pair of Austrian sisters each won gold in separate events.
Austria’s Madeleine Egle came out on top, winning her fourth race of the seasonin one minute 52.843 seconds. Her teammate Lisa Schulte took silver in 1:53.067. Anna Berreiter was the only German to place on the podium, taking the bronze in 1:53.088.
Sweeney was sitting in the bronze medal position after the first heat but dropped back a place following her second run. She finished fourthin 1:53.148 and closed the season ranked fifth in the overall World Cup standings with 602 points.
“Today was a mix of positives and negatives. It’s always a bummer to move back off the podium on a second run, but overall, it was a pretty good race for me,” said the two-time Olympian and 2019 World Championship bronze medalist here in Winterberg. “To end up fifth overall is really great for me. It’s absolutely a team effort and I’m happy I could do my part. After my injuries, I thought a solid overall result wasn’t going to happen. I’m proud of all the work that we did this year, and I’m really looking forward to some postseason time at home!”
Germany’s Julia Taubitz brought home the World Cup championship trophy with 947 points, followed by teammates Dajana Eitberger in second with 852 and Berreiter in third with 789. Ashley Farquharson (Park City, Utah) earned 343 points in 15th place, while Summer Britcher (Glen Rock, Pa.) had 279 in 16th, and Brittany Arndt (Park City, Utah) had 222 in 18th.
In a race typically determined by hundredths of seconds, Austria’s Selina Egle and Lara Kipp won emphatically in 1:28.169. Selina’s older sister, Madeleine, took gold in the women’s singles race. Reigning World Champions Jessica Degenhardt and Cheyenne Rosenthal of Germany finished second in 1:28.508, while Italy’s Andrea Vötter and Marion Oberhofer were third in 1:28.554.
Forgan (Chelmsford, Mass.) and Kirkby (Ray Brook, N.Y.) placed fifth, crossing the finish line in 1:28.740. Continuing a season-long trend, the duo set the fastest start times in both heats, coming within .007 of their own start record set two weeks ago.
“We are so happy with our first place start times today,” said Forgan. “We had a few small mistakes in our runs but overall they were pretty consistent.”
“We are so happy to achieve a start record this season in Winterberg, Germany,” said Kirkby, reflecting on the nine race World Cup series. “We had a terrific consistent season that holds a promising future.”
With 1010 points, Vötter/Oberhofer won the World Cup Championship, followed by Egle/Kipp in second with 915, and Degenhardt/Rosenthal placing third with 898.
Forgan/Kirkby werefifth with 635 points. The team of Maya Chan (Chicago, Illinois) and Reannyn Weiler (Whitesboro, N.Y.) finished their season in seventh with 428 points. Sweeney and Summer Britcher (Glen Rock, Pa.) finished their season in ninth place with 295 points.
Six-time Olympic Champions Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt of Germany stood at the top of the podium in today’s race. By doing so, they also won theoverall World Cup title, edging out defending champions and teammates Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken.
For the 52nd time in their career, Wendl/Arlt won a World Cup race. They did it with a two-run combined time of1:26.690, followed by Eggert/Benecken with silver in 1:26.747. Austria’s Thomas Gatt and Martin Schöpf finished third in 1:26.822.
2022 Olympians Zack DiGregorio (Medway, Mass.) and Sean Hollander (Lake Placid, N.Y.) hit a wall going into the final curve on their second run, resulting in a crash. They finished the season in ninth overall with 476 points, while the American duo of Dana Kellogg (Chesterfield, Mass.) and Duncan Segger (Lake Placid, N.Y.) placed 14th, earning 254.
Wendl/Arlt stood on top with 1014 points, Eggert/Benecken in second with 955, and Latvia’s Martins Bots and Roberts Plume were third with 757.
The final day of World Cup racing for the season continues in Winterberg tomorrow, February 26, with the men’s singles and team relay events. To watch all races live and view archived competitions, please visit the FIL’s YouTube channel:. The entire World Cup and World Championship season can be accessed from this portal.