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Segger part of national title team

PARK CITY, Utah — Ashley Farquharson won her third straight Norton USA Luge Junior National Championship Sunday on her home course in Park City. There was also a national title for the doubles team of Dana Kellogg and Lake Placid’s Duncan Segger.

  Farquharson, of Park City, stayed well ahead of several athletes who were derailed by crashes, namely Sophie Kirkby, of Ray Brook, and Elana Morrison.

The men’s race was also victimized by the rate of attrition as the result of the crash of overnight leader Zachary DiGregorio and the disqualifications of Matt Greiner (excessive control weight) and Jeff Sichler (hot steel runners). Sam Eckert, of Wilmington, also did not finish on Saturday, while Sean Rogers, of New Jersey, was disqualified for hot steels.

Out of the melee, Sean Hollander, of Lake Placid, emerged with his second consecutive Norton junior national crown.

A total of 24 luge athletes raced as snow fell intermittently in the Wasatch, resulting in periodic sweeps of the track during the afternoon. The format called for three races in two days, with a Norton Seeding Race each day. The total of the four heats determined the singles winner; in doubles there were two seeding races, but only day two determined the national championship standings.

Farquharson, who concluded her junior career, showed her versatility by winning national championships in Park City and Lake Placid. The two tracks could not be more dissimilar — Park City’s 2002 Olympic course is a high-speed, open curve freeway, while Lake Placid is somewhat slower, but a technically demanding course.

Farquharson had the fastest times in all four heats for a total of 3 minutes, 01.728 seconds. As she graduates to the national team next year, Farquharson was ineligible for the junior seeding points that were in the offing.

Kirkby, last week’s Youth A Norton national winner, was in position to finish behind Farquharson. Kirkby was headed to second place before crashing in the closing stages of the fourth heat. That opened the gate for Chevonne Forgan. The Chelmsford, Massachusetts racer stayed the course, posting the runner-up time of 3:03.919, followed by Delaney Duncan, of Park City, in 3:04.215.

Only eight of 13 men finished four heats. Hollander, the overnight second place athlete, saw DiGregorio struggle early in the third run. He did not complete the race. That gave the Lake Placid athlete a comfortable advantage over Keaton Jens, of Illinois. The winner polished off his victory with a final run that led to a 3:30.921 total time. Jens was 0.45 of a second slower, with Ian Smith 1.7 seconds from Hollander.

Despite the unexpected developments, seeding points were at stake on Saturday and Sunday. The women’s second seeding race resulted in Forgan first and totaling 185 points over the two events; Duncan finished second and grabbed 155 points; Sophia Gordon, of Sussex, Wisconsin, picked up third place in the race and in points with 125.

The order of finish in the second men’s seeding race was Hollander-Jens-Sam Day, and the points were distributed in the same order at 185-155-125.

Kellogg and Segger won the two seeding races, the second of which doubled as the national championship event. They had an aggregate two-heat time of 1:31.206. Day and Michael O’Gara trailed by 0.6 of a second. Youth women Maya Chan, of Chicago, and Reannyn Weiler, of Whitesboro, recorded 1:34.203 after moving up to the junior start just a few days earlier.

Doubles points saw Kellogg-Segger at 200; Day-O’Gara 170; Chan-Weiler 140. The third-place team, which medaled at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games test event last month in St. Moritz, is among the pioneers of the new women’s doubles discipline, with designs on one day racing in the Winter Olympics.

Although training and equipment testing will take place this month, the weekend of Norton junior national races brought the competitive season to an end for USA Luge. The 2019-2020 teams, at all levels, will be announced on May 1.