The World Financial Group-sponsored USA Luge team began their season with the intra-team Start Competition on Oct. 9.  In the start competition, participants paddle down the start of the course and complete one turn.  Luge athletes use this as a basis of gauging their speed and determining how to improve on it.  Four women competed in the 2010 competition. 

Leading all sliders was WFG-adopted USA Luge athlete Ashley Walden, who has won this competition eight times.  Her combined time from two runs was 3.588 seconds and enough for the gold.  This was great way to get back into the sport for Ashley, who just returned to competition after having back surgery this past spring.  “[I] was unsure how my back would respond to the start motion … [but] I know now that I am doing better than I was this time last year.”  Placing very close behind her was Julia Clukey whose time of 3.596 was less than a hundredth of a second behind Ashley.  2009 World Champion Erin Hamlin won bronze with a combined time of 3.699 while newcomer Lea Vanderlinden finished fourth with a time of 3.809.

In the men’s competition, Chris Mazdzer placed first with a time of 3.432 seconds.  On his heels to win silver was WFG-adopted athlete (and Ashley’s husband) Bengt Walden, finishing with a time of 3.470 seconds.  Very close behind Bengt was Aaron Barge with a time of 3.492.  Also sliding were Trent Matheson (3.596), Joe Mortensen (3.597), Tucker West (3.607) and Aidan Kelly (3.690).

Two doubles teams also took part.  Gold was claimed by the team of Matt Mortensen and Preston Griffall with a time of 3.474 seconds.  Silver was claimed by Shane Hook and Zac Clark (3.635).

Our USA Luge team continues to prepare to start their season in Cesana, Italy on November 11.  Keep reading for all the latest on “the fastest sport on ice”!

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