USA luge competes in Altenberg World Cup
ALTENBERG, Germany — FIL Luge World Cup action returned this past weekend in Altenberg, Germany.
The weekend of competitions served as a preview for the 2024 World Championship, which will be held in Altenberg. The track is expected to undergo an upgrade, focused on covering more of the ice from the elements and improving the women’s start house in advance of the championships.
Germany’s Max Langenhan defended his 2022 World Cup victory on Sunday by taking gold with a time of 1:47.574 in men’s singles on Sunday.
World Cup leading Italian Dominik Fischnaller took silver with a time of 1:47.812, while two-time Olympic champion Felix Loch, of Germany, placed third in 1:47.906. Austria’s Wolfgang Kindl earned fourth place in 1:47.943.
After posting the first and second fastest start times, respectively, Tucker West, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, placed seventh in 1:48.515, while his teammate Jonny Gustafson, of Massena, was 14th in 1:49.173.
“Overall, I’m happy with my result in the singles race,” West said in a statement. “The track conditions were much faster today compared to our training, so I didn’t quite know what to expect. In the end, I had two decent runs and landed in seventh place. Obviously, I wish I could be fighting for the medals but it’s clear that there is still a gap that we need to close.”
Fischnaller holds first place in the World Cup overall standings with 605 points. Loch is second with 496, and Kindl is third with 453. U.S. athletes are led by West in seventh with 342 points and Gustafson in 12th with 257.
2018 Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer only competed in North America and finished his season with 114 points.
Julia Taubitz led the German women’s podium sweep, crossing the women’s singles finish line in 1:45.727 on Saturday. Germany’s Anna Berreiter won silver in 1:46.034, while Dajana Eitberger, also of Germany, placed third in 1:46.057. Austria’s Madeleine Egle finished in fourth place in 1:46.386.
Three-time Olympian Summer Britcher, of Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, led the American women with an eighth-place finish in 1:46.643. Saranac Lake native Emily Sweeney, of Suffield, Connecticut, who has spent the last few weeks recovering from a neck injury, placed 12th in 1:46.948. 2022 Olympian Ashley Farquharson, of Park City, Utah, finished 14th in 1:47.290, while Brittany Arndt, of Park City, Utah, did not compete due to an injury.
Following her win, Taubitz edged Eitberger out of the top spot in the World Cup overall standings with 607 points. Eitberger is now in second with 582 and Berreiter is in third with 509. Sweeney is in fifth place with 399 points, Britcher and Farquharson are tied for 10th with 279 and Arndt is in 15th with 222.
German World Champions Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won their third World Cup race of the season with a time of 1:24.158 on Saturday.
Their German teammates, six-time Olympic gold medalists Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, took second in 1:24.224 and Latvia’s Martins Bots and Roberts Plume placed third in 1:24.376.
The American duo and 2022 Olympians Zack DiGregorio, of Medway, Massachusetts, and Sean Hollander, of Lake Placid, placed ninth with a time of 1:24.908.
“Today was a tough one for us, we are happy to be in the top 10 again but we were hoping for more,” DiGregorio said. “With the week of weather we had, it was hard to predict what the race would look like and after being in seventh on the first run we really wanted to go for it on the second run.”
“Going for it cost us a few small mistakes and some spots as well,” Hollander said. “But, like everything, sometimes you need to move a step back before moving forward, so now we are looking forward to the relay, joining Summer and one of our men’s singles athletes to hopefully put on a good showing.”
Dana Kellogg, of Chesterfield, Massachusetts, and Duncan Segger, of Lake Placid, returned to racing after failing to qualify for the World Championships last weekend. Kellogg and Segger experienced issues in both heats exiting the 270-degree Kreisel corner, in 13th place at 1:26.297.
Eggert/Benecken remain at the top of the World Cup overall standings with 615 points. Wendl/Arlt are currently second with 614 and the Latvian duo of Bots and Plume are third with 525.
The American team of DiGregorio/Hollander are in eighth place with 352 points, while Kellogg/Segger are in 15th with 194.
Italy’s Andrea Vtter and Marion Oberhofer collected their fourth gold medal of the season with a time of 1:25.650 on Saturday. Germany’s Jessica Degenhardt and Cheyenne Rosenthal placed second in 1:25.701 and Austria’s Selina Egle and Lara Kipp took bronze in 1:25.927.
The American team of Chevonne Forgan, of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, and Sophie Kirkby, of Ray Brook, placed sixth with a time of 1:27.495. Maya Chan, of Chicago, Illinois, and Reannyn Weiler, of Whitesboro, placed eighth in 1:27.732. Both teams had trouble in their second heat. Britcher and Sweeney did not compete in the doubles race in Altenberg.
Vtter/Oberhofer are the overall World Cup leaders with 700 points. Egle/Kipp are in second place with 615 and Degenhardt/Rosenthal are third with 571. Team USA’s Forgan/Kirkby are in fourth place with 425 points, Chan/Weiler are in seventh with 336 and Sweeney/Britcher are in eighth with 295.
Team Austria’s Egle, Kindl and the doubles team of Yannick Mueller and Armin Frauscher, stood at the top of the podium after hitting the paddle and stopping the clock in 2:23.742 on Sunday.
German doubles World Champions Benecken and Eggert joined Taubitz and Langenhan to take silver in 2:23.840. Team Latvia’s Elina Vitola, Kristers Aparjods and Martins Bots and Roberts Plume took bronze in 2:23.881.
Team USA placed fifth, just .137 off the podium and .276 away from the gold medal in a remarkably close race. The team of Britcher, West and DiGregorio/Hollander all placed in the top ten in their respective disciplines this weekend.
Germany and Latvia are tied for first place in the overall World Cup relay standings, with 355 points. Italy is third with 250, and Team USA is in fourth place with 180.