NORTON JUNIOR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP TITLES WON BY SOPHIA GORDON, MARCUS MUELLER AND MARCUS MUELLER/ANSEL HAUGSJAA
by Gordy Sheer
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – A sunny spring weekend with cold morning temperatures presented ideal conditions for the 2023 Norton Junior National Championships. Two separate races were held on March 10 and 11, consisting of two heats per day. Champions were crowned by combining the total time of the two days and four heats of racing. The Junior category is defined by the International Luge Federation as athletes born between the years 2002 and 2004.
Marcus Mueller (Brookfield, Wis.) took his second consecutive Championship title by utilizing a strong start at the top of the hill. Aidan Mueller (West Islip, N.Y.) took silver through exceptional driving skills. Hunter Harris (East Fairfield, Vt.) was third in his final competition as a Junior. The order of finish was the same on both race days for the top three.
“Two clean runs and it felt really good,” said Marcus Mueller. “It was a great competition between everyone.”
In the women’s division, Sophia Gordon (Sussex, Wis.) notched her first Norton Junior title after taking Youth B and Youth A titles in previous years. Silver medalist Elana Morrison (Muskegon, Mich.) was second in her final competition as a Junior. Last week’s Youth A title winner, Elizabeth Kleinheinz (Santa Clara, Calif.) took the Championship bronze medal after placing fourth in each day of racing. Emma Erikson (Park City, Utah) and Talia Tonn (Cecil, Wis.) were bronze medalists in the Saturday and Sunday races, respectively.
“It feels amazing, especially after having a season full of ups and downs. Some good results, some bad results,” Gordon said. “It was really nice to end the season on a high note.”
Marcus Mueller and Ansel Haugsjaa (Framingham, Mass.) won both races and the Norton Junior title. The duo, who took a bronze medal at the 2023 Junior World Championship and finished the season ranked third in Junior World Cup standings, also broke a start record on Saturday. That record was set at the 2008 Junior World Championships. Aidan Muller and Frank Ike (Lititz, Pa.) were second, while World Cup medalists Maya Chan (Chicago, Ill.) and Reannyn Weiler (Whitesboro, N.Y.) were third in a race that included men’s and women’s teams. In Saturday’s race, Mueller/Ike took second and Chan/Weiler were third. Sunday saw Chan/Weiler take silver and Mueller/Ike in the bronze medal position.
“It feels great,” said Marcus Mueller of his second consecutive Norton Junior title with Haugsjaa. “To do it two years in a row is amazing and I couldn’t ask for a better partner.”
“It was a good race. We had some fast starts and a time we were happy with,” Haugsjaa added.
The Masters National Championships will close out the 2022-23 luge season. That race is set to take place on April 2 in Lake Placid.