Kirkby sweeps to Norton victory
PARK CITY, Utah — Ian Smith and Sophie Kirkby emerged victorious once again Sunday and swept the two-day Norton USA Luge Youth A seeding races and national championships in their respective divisions on the 2002 Olympic track in Park City, Utah.
The combination of the Saturday and Sunday seeding races, totaling four heats over two days, determined the Norton national singles champions.
Kirkby, of Ray Brook, and Smith entered the races at the Utah Olympic Park after spending the winter competing in Junior and Youth World Cup events in North America and Europe.
Smith, of Carlisle, Massachusetts, won a closely contested second seeding event. Smith, runner-up Matt Greiner and third place Sam Day were separated by less than 0.1 of a second. The medalists mirrored Saturday’s races.
Smith’s two heats totaled 1 minute, 31.383 seconds. He rallied in the second heat to overcome Greiner, the first run leader, who posted 1:31.446 on his home course. Sam Day, a Long Islander from Wantagh, was only 0.03 from Greiner.
Smith had a nationals winning total of 3:02.286, but he could take no seeding points as Smith is aging out of youth racing after this weekend. Greiner picked up all 200 points and Day had 170. Greiner’s nationals time was 3:02.628; Day recorded 3:02.749. Third place in seeding points went to Sam Eckert, of Wilmington. Eckert finished with 140.
Kirkby had the fastest time in all four runs over the weekend, giving her the Norton title. She was timed in 1:26.613 on day two. Her four-heat time was 2:53.248, topping Park City’s Delaney Duncan by 0.46 in the national race. Like Smith, Kirkby will move up next year and was not eligible for seeding points.
McKenna Mazlo, of Souderton, Pennsylvania, was 0.51 behind Kirkby. Mazlo and Duncan placed 2-3, respectively, in the second seeding race after reversing that result a day earlier. They tied in points with 185 points, but Mazlo won the tie-breaker with the fastest single heat. Sophia Gordon, from Sussex, Wisconsin, was third in seeding with 140 points and fourth in nationals.
The men’s Youth B event saw Wolfgang Lux, of Swanton, Vermont, rebound from fifth place on Saturday to win the second seeding race and place fourth overall in the national title chase. Orson Colby, of Riverton, Utah, put down the fastest times in three of the four legs. It was enough to score a U.S. crown in 3:03.030. Colby was third in the final seeding event, with Logan Barnes, of Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, taking the national silver medal in 3:04.469. David D’Amico, of Downers Grove, Illinoia, placed third, two seconds from the winner.
Colby and D’Amico tied for the top spot in Youth B men seeding points at 170 with Colby winning the single fastest run tie-breaker. Lux was third but is too young to move up in class next year, while Barnes is aging out of the bracket.
Youth A doubles saw Sam Day and Michael O’Gara, of California, a day after being disqualified for an overweight sled, race to a Norton national victory. The twosome also medaled in the Youth World Cup late in the season.
Day and O’Gara had a pair of heats totaling 1:26.100 as the event doubled as the national race and the second seeding race. Gordon and Mazlo took second in 1:27.333, followed by Saturday’s seeding winners Maya Chan, of Chicago, and Reannyn Weiler of Whitesboro, in 1:27.611.
Chan and Weiler, who medaled at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games test race in St. Moritz, piled up 185 seeding points as did Gordon and Mazlo. But the former team was awarded first place via the tie-breaker. Emma Erickson, of Oneida, Wisconsin. teamed with Elana Morrison, of Twin Lake, Michigan, to pick up 140 seeding points for third place.
A total of 43 athletes raced in the four different brackets. Several of them — Russell Foster, Jr., of Mamaroneck, Marcus Mueller, of Brookfield, Wisconsin and Tomas Ziemiecki, of Mason, New Hampshire — moved up to a higher division and consequently a higher start position on the track.
Sunday’s second seeding race and the crowning of the Norton national champions concludes the competitive youth season. This week brings the juniors to the UOP for training in advance of the March 9-10 Norton races. The action Saturday and Sunday will be streamed live at USALuge.org.