Every sport has a pre-season training period, and the USA Luge team, of which World Financial Group (WFG) is a proud sponsor, is no different.  And while you think Luge doesn’t compete in the summer, our US team did just that in the mountains of Meransen, Italy last weekend for the “International Luge Start Championships”. 3

US team member Ashley Walden provides this explanation of the “start competition”: “[it’s] where you pull the handles [at the top of the track] and paddle four or five times and then [slide through] one curve”.  Ashley says the start competition is very interesting for athletes because it helps them gauge where they are in their training.  Each athlete is given three of these abbreviated runs and their times are combined for their final score. 

Well, for this training competition, the WFG-sponsored team started in fine form.  Among the ladies, Julia Clukey won gold by sliding to a combined time of 14.247 seconds.  Not far behind her was Ashley, who won silver with a combined time of 14.462 seconds.  Other US ladies team members sliding included Courtney Zablocki (14.691 seconds for sixth) and current world champion Erin Hamlin (14.788 seconds for seventh). 

Two of our US men’s sliders placed in the top ten.  Bengt Walden, Ashley’s husband, finished seventh with a combined time of 14.052 seconds.  Teammate Chris Mazdzer’s combined time of 14.140 was enough for tenth.  Also performing well was Joe Mortensen with a 14th place finish of 14.212 seconds. 

Doubles competition featured two top ten finishers.  Matt Mortensen and Preston Griffall had a 14.151 second combined time for fourth place while their teammates, Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin’s 14.185 second finish was good for sixth. 

Look for more coverage of our US Luge team right here on wfgsports.com.  And to our USA Luge team: your friends at World Financial Group wish you continued success throughout the season.

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