U.S. women’s doubles earns bronze at luge World Championships

Team USA’s doubles team of Sophie Kirkby, left, and Chevonne Forgan show off their World Championship bronze medal in Altenberg, Germany. (Provided photo — FIL/Mareks Galinovskis)

ALTENBERG, Germany — The United States doubles team of Chevonne Forgan and Sophie Kirkby won their second career World Championship bronze medal on Saturday, tying the start and track records while doing so.

Team USA also brought home a silver medal at the 52nd FIL Luge World Championships team relay on Sunday, securing their first podium in the discipline since the 2020 World Championships in Sochi, Russia.

The team consisted of Summer Britcher, the men’s doubles team of Dana Kellogg and Frank Ike, Tucker West and the women’s duo of Chevonne Forgan and Sophie Kirkby. The race marked the debut of women’s doubles in the World Championships relay.

In the 11th FIL U23 World Championships on Saturday, Maya Chan and Reannyn Weiler took silver, and the men’s doubles team of Marcus Mueller and Ansel Haugsjaa won the bronze. The U23 competition serves as a race within the general class World Championship.

Team relay

Team USA took advantage of solid and consistent runs, hitting the paddle finish in 3 minutes, 11.227 seconds. Three-time Olympian Britcher of Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, was the first sled out of the start, setting the stage for Kellogg, of Chesterfield, Massachusetts, and Ike, of Lititz, Pennsylvania, which secured their first spot on a World Championships relay team following their ninth-place finish in Saturday’s men’s doubles competition.

Kellogg and Ike continued the momentum and hit the paddle for three-time Olympian West of Ridgefield, Connecticut, who had the fastest reaction start in the men’s heat. World Championships bronze medalists Forgan, of Chelmsford, Massachusetts and Kirkby, of Ray Brook, had the fastest reaction start of the discipline, placing the U.S. team in front of the Italians.

The order of nations for the team relay is determined by overall World Cup standings based on prior events. The race kicked off with a surprisingly impressive performance from Team China, which placed a career-high fifth in 3:14.413. The first of the medal-contending nations was Italy, followed by the United States.

Latvia built up over the United States squad, but the women’s doubles team of Anda Upite and Zane Kaluma fell behind the time of Forgan and Kirkby.

The German team used their home track advantage to move in front of the United States. Germany’s Julia Taubitz, the men’s duo of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, Max Langenhan and the women’s duo of Dajana Eitberger and Saskia Schirmer were crowned relay champions with a time of 3:10.869.

Latvia’s Elina Vitola, the men’s duo of Martins Bots and Roberts Plume, Kristers Aparjods and the women’s duo of Anda Upite and Zane Kaluma took bronze at 3:11.275.

With nine medals on the weekend, the Austrian team was the favorite to take gold in the team relay, but small mistakes by the first three sleds placed them behind the German and United States teams. Selina Egle and Lara Kipp had the Austrians in contention halfway through their run, but major trouble at the bottom of the track knocked them out of medal contention.

Women’s doubles

Forgan and Kirkby had a minor problem in the upper portion of the track on their first run but came back with a stellar second heat, securing a spot on the podium with a time of 1:24.897. Latvia’s Upite and Kaluma set the record in a time of 42.334 in the first heat. Forgan and Kirkby kicked off their second run by tying the start record of 5.925 set by Italy’s Andrea Voetter and Marion Oberhofer in 2023. The pair continued their way down the track, tying the track record set by the Latvians earlier in the day. Forgan and Kirkby also won bronze at the 2022 World Championships in Winterberg, Germany.

“We had such a good race,” Forgan said. “We finished in third place for World Championships here in Altenberg. We had a small problem on the first run with a pretty rough start curve, but the second run we managed to clean it up and put down a really solid run and get on the podium.”

“That second run was solid,” Kirkby added. “It felt so good to get the bronze medal here in Altenberg, Germany for World Champs and it just means a lot.”

Chan, of Chicago, Illinois and Weiler, of Whitesboro, finished their World Championships in fifth place, with a time of 1:25.158. Before Friday’s fourth-place finish in the sprint event, the duo had been on a five-race run of sixth-place finishes, suggesting an upward path. The result also earned the duo a second-place finish in the U23 World Championships.

Austria’s Selina Egle and Kipp won the gold medal with a time of 1:24.761, with Upite and Kaluma taking silver in 1:24.811. The defending World Champions, Jessica Degenhardt and Cheyenne Rosenthal, of Germany, did not have a clean first run and hit the wall coming out of curve nine, placing 13th in 1:28.840.

Men’s doubles

With five different winners across the World Cup races this season, the men’s doubles race was a toss-up, but Austria continued to remain strong, taking the top two spots on the podium.

Kellogg and Ike placed ninth in their first World Championships as a doubles team with a time of 1:24.020. Their teammates Mueller, of Brookfield, Wisconsin, and Haugsjaa, of Framingham, Massachusetts, finished in 13th in 1:24.144.

2022 Olympians Zack DiGregorio and Sean Hollander have been struggling to get back on form since their gold medal at the Lake Placid World Cup. DiGregorio, of Medway, Massachusetts, and Hollander, of Lake Placid, had a tough first run and finished 21st.

Austria’s Thomas Gatt and Martin Schoepf won gold in 1:22.924, with their teammates Thomas Steu and Wolfgang Kindl taking the silver in 1:22.970. Three-time Olympic champions Wendl and Arlt of Germany placed third with a time of 1:23.279.

Women’s singles

Austria’s Lisa Schulte earned gold and her first World Championships medal in 1:43.901. Taubitz was second in 1:44.005, with Madeleine Egle third in 1:44.076. Germany’s Merle Fraebel had a difficult first run but set a track record of 51.786 in the second heat. She finished in fifth place.

Britcher was consistent throughout the day, placing eighth with a time of 1:44.581.

Emily Sweeney and Ashley Farquharson struggled throughout the competition. Farquharson, of Park City, Utah, placed 19th in 1:45.143 following a series of challenges on both runs. Sweeney, of Lake Placid, had a rough first run and missed a left-hand paddle at the start of her second run. She finished in 20th in 1:45.180.

Men’s singles

West led the United States men’s team, finishing in fourth place with a time of 1:48.695. Three-time Olympian West just missed the start record by .006 on his second run. Saturday’s result matched his best finish this season when he placed fourth in the Lake Placid World Cup in December. West was .065 behind the bronze medal.

“Both runs were pretty good,” West said. “The first run had a little bobble at the start but then I cleaned it up on the second run. We are coming from a tough week of training and trying to find the right setup. We found it pretty last minute, and all and all it worked out.”

West’s teammate and 2022 Olympian and Massena native Jonny Gustafson, a top 10 finisher in every World Cup event this season, placed in ninth with a time of 1:49.080. Hunter Harris of East Fairfield, Vermont placed 27th in his World Championship debut.

Germany’s Langenhan stood atop the podium as the World Champion with a time of 1:47.813. Austria’s Nico Gleirscher took the silver medal in 1:48.574. Germany’s Felix Loch, the most decorated luge athlete at the World Championships with six gold and three silver medals, added to his collection by placing third in 1:48.630.


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