World Cup luge tour resumes in Germany
KOENIGSSEE, Germany — USA Luge will bring its 10 Olympic nominees to this upscale resort in Bavaria, also the home of the International Luge Federation, when the World Cup tour resumes Saturday and Sunday on arguably the most iconic track in the world.
The traditional stop in early January punctuates the end of the 12 days of Christmas, but there will be no presents for athletes at any turn on this difficult track unless they’ve done their due diligence in advance of the races.
The American team, which started the fall campaign with 16 competitors, will end the World Cup circuit in January with the group that will compete at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang. The team returned to the ice on Saturday, Dec. 30 and Sunday, Dec. 31 for additional training runs. Koenigssee World Cup race week officially started Tuesday.
“I’m very excited to be getting back to racing,” said two-time Olympian Jayson Terdiman, the back driver with Matt Mortensen. Together they comprise USA Luge’s top doubles team. “The holiday break was great. I always love getting to see the family. But the itch for sliding kept coming. With the four World Cups leading into the Winter Olympic Games, our focus will be on getting our consistency back. We did a lot of equipment testing during the first half and have learned a lot in that process. Now it’s time to put that knowledge to use and get ourselves back to where we believe we belong.”
Koenigssee marks the first of four consecutive World Cup weekends that will conclude the season. Thereafter, the schedule brings the circuit to Oberhof, Germany, marking yet another season when half the tour is in that country; Lillehammer, Norway, the 1994 Olympic site; and then to the finals in Sigulda, Latvia on Jan. 27-28.
The final three events carry additional importance in that seeding for the Olympic Games will be determined by those competitions. There will be no qualifying in Pyeongchang.
“I really enjoy sliding in Koenigssee so I’m looking forward to get the racing started again,” remarked Emily Sweeney, who will be competing in her first Olympics. “Koenigssee is a fun track for me and it’s a place that I can usually find my flow with sliding. That’s really what I’m trying to focus on leading up to the Games. My goals in the next few weeks of sliding are to stay healthy and continue to slide with confidence. If I can do those two things, I think I will be in a great spot going into Pyeongchang.”
Another Olympic newcomer, Taylor Morris, of South Jordan, Utah, raced onto the team at the Lake Placid World Cup, finishing fifth in singles. He then continued the momentum with a career best bronze medal in the ensuing sprint race.
“I’m really excited to be racing in Koenigssee,” Morris said. “It’s one of my favorite tracks on tour this year and I’m ready to get back into the racing mindset. My goals moving forward are mainly the same as before being selected to the Olympic team. Keep focused on yourself and what is in your control. Put your best self out on the track and have no regrets as we move towards the Olympics in February.”
The Koenigssee layout stands just above Kings Lake from which the village takes its name, and runs along the foot of Watzmann Mountain, the third highest in the country. It draws some of the sport’s largest audiences as locals and visitors alike turn out to support the home team. A number of Germany’s stars, namely defending Olympic champions Felix Loch, Natalie Geisenberger and the doubles team of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, call this their home course.
The upper section of the track is highlighted by the tight S turns, before transitioning into the aptly-named Bend Straightaway. This leads to the 360-degree Kriesel curve. Five precise turns later bring the sleds to the finish line.
Weather conditions leading into race days will be the opposite of what many have experienced in the U.S. during the holiday break. The Bavarian forecast will bring intermittent rain and snow to this postcard location, in contrast to the eastern ice box back home.
The schedule will present doubles and women on Jan. 6 starting at 5:15 a.m. (Eastern), followed by the men and the team relay on Jan. 7 at 4:40 a.m. ET. The action can be seen live at www.olympicchannel.com.