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USA Luge qualifiers wrap up today in LP

Chris Mazdzer, top, and his doubles partner Jayson Terdiman slide through the chicain section of the track at Mount Van Hoevenberg during team qualifying racing on Thursday in Lake Placid. The pair won both doubles heats. (Provided photo)

LAKE PLACID — With a number of athletes pre-qualified for this season’s Eberspacher World Cup tour, USA Luge began to fill the remaining spots in racing at Mount Van Hoevenberg Thursday with the series to conclude on Friday.

Emily Sweeney, the 2019 World Championship bronze medalist, posted the two best heats of the women’s race and totaled 1 minute, 29.247 seconds. Five-time World Cup winner Summer Britcher finished second, 0.3 of a second from Sweeney. However, these two athletes are exempt from World Cup qualifying after their results last season. A total of four United States women are vying for the two remaining spots for the trip to Koenigssee, Germany and the resumption of the World Cup season after the holiday break.

Brittney Arndt and Ashley Farquharson took the first steps Thursday afternoon at Mount Van Hoevenberg on a cloudy, 30 degree afternoon. They separated themselves from Chevonne Forgan and Sophie Kirkby, who ironically, have also started training together as a doubles team in anticipation of possible inclusion in the 2026 Winter Olympics.

Arndt recorded a pair of runs that amounted to 1:29.692, with Farquharson next in 1:29.799. Forgan wound up 1.5 seconds behind Sweeney, with Kirkby 1.9 seconds off the pace.

In the men’s event, 2018 Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer and two-time Olympian Tucker West traded best heat times in the two-run event. Mazdzer captured the first leg and went on to win in 1:44.592. West was fastest in the final run and wound up just 0.06 from his teammate. Jonny Gustafson, the 2020 U23 World Championship bronze medal winner, was third in 1:45.234. Sean Hollander was next in 1:45.876 the four-sled field. Zack DiGregorio did not compete.

In men’s singles, the American team will take three athletes to Koenigssee as Mazdzer, West and Gustafson were able to forego qualifying and will represent USA Luge in January and February. DiGregorio and Hollander, racing mostly singles to date in the Junior World Cup, have partnered to form a new doubles team this fall, and will remain in Lake Placid the remainder of the season to gain more experience and training runs together.

USA Luge will bring two doubles teams to Koenigssee. Mazdzer will be joined by two-time Olympian Jayson Terdiman, along with the team of Dana Kellogg and Lake Placid’s Duncan Segger. Thursday’s doubles race saw the Mazdzer and Terdiman duo upend Kellogg and Segger by 0.2 of a second over the two legs of the race. Forgan and Kirkby placed third.

Qualification concludes today at 10 a.m. at the Olympic Sports Complex. Temperatures are expected to moderate in Lake Placid for the final runs.

The United States did not compete in the first four events of the World Cup season, citing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic and related international travel and quarantine regulations.

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