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World Cup luge season resumes in Germany

ALTENBERG, Germany — After a holiday pause of nearly a month, the Viessmann World Cup tour resumes Saturday and Sunday in the outpost of Altenberg, Germany, adjacent to the border of the Czech Republic.

The resumption finds the remainder of the World Cup schedule, through February, taking place on all four German tracks as well as Lillehammer, Norway and Sigulda, Latvia. The season highlight — the World Championships in Sochi — will be held as scheduled Feb. 14-16. Sanctions against Russia by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which included forfeiture of major international events, are yet to be legally enforced. The International Luge Federation (FIL) issued a statement several weeks ago stating that preparations for this event are ongoing. The FIL added that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency will have no involvement in Sochi.

Meanwhile, the USA Luge National Team, which stopped in Park City, Utah in mid-December for several days of training after the Whistler World Cup, arrived in Altenberg on New Year’s Day for several sessions of international training prior to race week. Official training commenced Wednesday, followed by Nations Cup qualifying Friday and World Cup action on the weekend.

Lake Placid resident Emily Sweeney, who was the 2018 Olympian and 2019 World Championship bronze medalist, and Tucker West are the top-ranked Americans entering the final two months of the campaign. On the strength of two silver medals and one bronze, Sweeney is third in the overall standings. Two-time Olympian Summer Britcher, of Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, is sixth. Russia’s Tatyana Ivanova leads the standings with three gold medals in the five races held to date.

World Cup rookie Ashley Farquharson and Brittney Arndt, both of Park City, are 13th and 24th, respectively.

West, a 2014 and 2018 Olympian from Ridgefield, Connecticut, found his mojo in the North American races last month. Two silver medals in Lake Placid, followed by a pair of consistent performances at Whistler, have West ranked right behind World Cup leader Roman Repilov, of Russia, and Jonas Mueller, of Austria. Repilov, who has a younger brother winning Youth A World Cup races, has registered two gold and two silver medals in five events.

Despite a list of ailments that have hampered his start, 2018 Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer, of Saranac Lake, finds himself in eighth place, highlighted by a fourth-place result in the Lake Placid Sprint World Cup. The U.S. men’s team is completed by Jonny Gustafson, of Massena, who is currently in 16th place in the World Cup.

Mazdzer will team with Jayson Terdiman on the team’s lone doubles sled, which also gives them double duty in the team relay of which there will be five to end the season. Mazdzer, a three-time Olympian, is the only World Cup luge athlete competing in singles and doubles. The twosome got their hands on a new sled in the fall and have spent the first few months of the year with coaches refining and tweaking it for maximum comfort, aerodynamics, and ultimately, greater speed. The painstaking process is now behind them, putting Mazdzer and Terdiman in a position to make incremental improvements in January and February.

Mazdzer will be quite busy this weekend as he will race doubles and men’s singles on Saturday, followed by the team relay Sunday afternoon after the women’s race. Altenberg racing begins at 3:25 a.m. ET on Saturday; 3:15 a.m. ET on Sunday.

USA LUGE SIDETRACKS

– All World Cup and World Championship races will be live streamed on www.olympicchannel.com. For access, have your cable subscription username and password ready to enter.

– Four television shows will be produced from the Altenberg World Cup races. The first three will air on the Olympic Channel: Saturday — doubles, 8:30 a.m. ET; Saturday — men’s singles, 2 p.m. ET; Sunday — women’s singles 2 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Network Jan. 13 — women’s single, 11 p.m. ET.

– The USA Luge Youth Olympic Games team departed Jan. 6 for St. Moritz, site of the sliding events for the 2020 YOG. Team USA has seven luge racers, coached by Jon Owen, a 1988 Olympian. The athletes are Matt Greiner, of Park City; Hunter Harris, of East Fairfield, Vermont; McKenna Mazlo, of Souderton, Pennsylvania; Maya Chan, of Chicago; Reannyn Weiler, of Whitesboro; Sam Day, of Wantagh; Sam Eckert, of Wilmington. Luge competitions are set for Jan. 17 (women’s singles, men’s doubles), Jan. 18 (men’s singles, women’s doubles), Jan. 20 (team relay). Racing begins at 2:30 a.m. ET daily.

– The USA Luge Junior C and D teams are beginning 2020 with training camps at Mount Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid.

– Over the holiday recess, a number of teams held their national championships. In Oberhof, Julia Taubitz, Johannes Ludwig and Toni Eggert/Sascha Benecken secured their respective national titles. It was a first for Taubitz and Ludwig, while Eggert and Benecken grabbed their fourth German crown. … Also in Oberhof, Italy crowned Andrea Voetter, Dominik Fischnaller and Emanuel Rieder-Simon Kainzwaldner. The Austrians stayed close to home in Igls where Madeleine Egle, Wolfgang Kindl and Thomas Steu/Lorenz Koller emerged victorious. It was Egle’s first national championship, while Kindl picked up his seventh in a row.

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