LAKE?PLACID - Four-time Olympian Bengt Walden of Lake Placid has decided to retire from the United States luge team.
"Bengt had a long and wonderful career in luge and was a great team player," said USA Luge Director Mark Grimmette. "His enthusiasm and love for the sport will be greatly missed on our team."
Walden, who began his career in 1985, raced for the United States at the 2010 Olympics after marrying his wife and teammate Ashley Walden in 2006. Bengt Walden became a U.S. citizen in 2009 after racing for his native Sweden at the 1994, 1998 and 2002 Olympic Games.
Bengt Walden reacts at the finish of his final Olympic run last year at the Vancouver Olympics.
(AP Photo — Michael Sohn)
His racing career began in 1985 and his best Olympic result was a 15th in 2010. His best World Championship result came in 2009 with a sixth-place finish.
Walden plans to stay involved with the sport as a coach.
Returning for the U.S. luge team for the fall season will be Chris Mazdzer of Saranac Lake, Erin Hamlin, Christian Niccum and Jayson Terdiman.
Hamlin, a 2010-11 World Cup medalist, will be joined on the women's squad by Ashley Walden and Julia Clukey. Emily Sweeney has also been named to the team, though she is still eligible to compete as a member of the junior national team. It is expected that she will split her time racing on both circuits.
A notable returner for the men's team will be Tony Benshoof, who missed last season to tend to his ailing mother. Benshoof is known to be the most successful male athlete in USA luge history. His mother lost her battle with lung cancer in March.
"Tony is a wonderfully gifted luge athlete and I am excited to have his talent and knowledge of the sport come back to our team," Grimmette said.
The majority of the athletes will check into Lake Placid's Olympic Training Center resident-athlete program by July for more sport-specific training after training at their respective homes in the interim. The sliding season is tentatively scheduled to begin in Lake Placid in mid-October, while the official international race calendar will be confirmed in mid-July and will likely start in mid- to late-November.
"This summer will see our athletes improving their strength and start techniques," said Grimmette, a two-time Olympic medalist with teammate Brian Martin. "Additionally, we will work with the team on improving their sleds for the coming season. I am enthusiastic about our athletes training and the direction of the US program."