USA Luge departs Latvia 4th in relay, Sweeney 4th in sprint race
Mortensen/Terdiman, Hamlin 3rd in overall World Cup chase; West 5th on the year
Mortensen/Terdiman, Hamlin, Mazdzer win Sprint World Cup overall medals
SIGULDA, Latvia – USA Luge closed the Sigulda Viessmann World Cup weekend with a pair of fourth place performances Sunday – Emily Sweeney in a sprint race, as well as the team relay – as both events saw agonizingly close finishes for medals.
“I went into this weekend feeling like I could do something in this race and I just fell short yesterday,” said Sweeney, of Suffield, Conn., whose sprint time was only 0.006 of a second from a silver medal. “So I think it was just having that one extra run, and just having some good lines that made the difference. I had a great run. The sprint takes out a little bit of the start, so it’s a good situation for me to be in.”
In addition, the Americans ended the BMW Sprint World Cup season with a sled in the top three of each discipline, and sit in the top three in women’s singles, doubles and team relay.
Singles racers Erin Hamlin and Tucker West, joined forces with the doubles team of Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman, to take fourth in a Viessmann Team Relay World Cup, presented by BMW.
The result left the Americans second in the team relay World Cup standings, and ended a long final day in the Baltic state that played out under light snowfall and temperatures just below freezing. The concluding race of the two-day program was relocated from Whistler last month when sleds arriving from Lake Placid were hung up in a snowstorm in western Canada.
Earlier, Mortensen and Terdiman took sixth in the one-heat Sprint World Cup doubles race. The points were enough to elevate them to third place in the overall tour rankings. It’s the highest perch either one has ever enjoyed in their careers either together or with other teammates.
“I am very happy that Jayson and I have moved up in the World Cup rankings to third place, and that we claimed third place overall in the sprint races,” remarked Mortensen, of Huntington Station, N.Y. “Every year that Jayson and I have slid together, we have had a specific goal in mind. Each year we have hit that goal. This season was about getting a World Cup medal, which we achieved in Lake Placid. There are still three World Cups left, so there are no celebrations happening for being in third place overall at the moment. We’ll have to wait and see where we stand at the end of the season for that. The focus for now is to continue to slide well, and hopefully everything else falls into place.”
“With three World Cups remaining, the goal of being top three overall has not yet been met,” added Terdiman, of Berwick, Pa. “But we are definitely in a great position to be there when the season ends. With two out of the three races being in Germany, it will not be easy to fend off (Robin) Geueke and (David) Gamm (of Germany) or the Sics brothers (from Latvia) for that position. Still, Matt and I are happy with our progress this season, and hope to continue to fight for podium finishes in the remaining weeks.”
In sprint races, Sochi Olympian Summer Britcher, of Glen Rock, Pa., was eighth and Hamlin ninth. The men’s sprint resulted in Chris Mazdzer sliding into fifth place and West 10th. In men’s singles, it was West finishing ninth and Mazdzer 13th.
Including Sunday’s team relay, Russia’s Semen Pavlichenko, Roman Repilov and Tatyana Ivanova, along with Austrian Wolfgang Kindl, owned the final day. Get used to their names as they continue to serve notice that they are contenders for Olympic medals 13 months from now in PyeongChang. Each of the Russian men has two World Cup wins this season; Ivanova has one victory.
Pavlichenko, the 2015 World Champion on this course, captured gold just ahead of Repilov in the singles competition. The pair swapped positions in the sprint race, with Kindl collecting bronze medals in both events.
West, of Ridgefield, Conn., another double gold medalist this season, had a very fast start and then struggled over the remainder of his opening heat. From 21st place, he rallied with the fifth best final run to take ninth.
Mazdzer, a two-time Olympian from Saranac Lake, N.Y., recorded the eighth best first leg, and then drifted back to 13th.
Taylor Morris, of South Jordan, Utah, was 28th and World Cup rookie Jonny Gustafson, of Massena, N.Y., wound up 27th. Neither qualified for the sprint race which is reserved for just the top 15 of the two-heat event.
This marked the final of three sprint races this the season. In a departure from the normal tabulation of World Cup points, the overall sprint standings are determined by aggregate time from Winterberg, Park City and Sigulda.
USA Luge did have three overall podium results in the sprint disciplines, with 2014 Olympic bronze medalist and 2009 World Champion Erin Hamlin, of Remsen, N.Y., taking second behind Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger by merely 0.016 of a second. Mazdzer was third in men’s, as were Mortensen and Terdiman in doubles.
Russia, which trained extensively in Sigulda in the years prior to the opening of the track in Sochi, defeated Germany in the team relay. The 0.017 of a second margin is the second closest in the 39-race history of the competition. The home team, Latvia, tallied the bronze medal, ahead of the Americans.
Germany was able to usurp Canada at the top of the overall World Cup standings, dropping the previous tour leaders to third, while USA Luge retained second place in a tight battle.
Three relays remain with Germany, winners of 28 of the 39 events to date, on 231 points. The U.S. has 215, with Canada at 210.
The Viessmann World Cup tour now steps aside for three weeks, giving way to the annual World Championships. The 2017 edition will take place in Igls, Austria, near Innsbruck, January 27-29. International Training Week was held at the two-time Olympic site back in November.
USA Luge is now headed to Altenberg, Germany for a few days of training next week prior to the trip to Igls. The World Cup finals will be held late next month on the track that sits on the border of the Czech Republic.
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