The USA Luge team, proudly sponsored by World Financial Group, started their season last weekend at the first Nations Cup and World Cup match held in Calgary, AB.

Friday, November 20 saw the Nations Cup competition, and for the men, Toby Benshoof finished third among the U.S. competitors with a time of 45.167 seconds – only 0.345 seconds away from first.  Also sliding were Chris Mazdzer, who finished tenth with a time of 45.385 and Trent Matheson, who ended 23rd with a time of 46.044. 

U.S. women competing included WFG-adopted athlete Kate Hansen, who finished fifth with a time of 47.667 seconds, which was only 0.501 off first place.  Not too far behind her was Julia Clukey, whose 47.802 time was good for eighth place.  Also sliding for the US were Emily Sweeney with a time of 48.343 for 18th and her sister Megan who finished at 48.743 seconds for 22nd. 

Doubles Nations Cup sliders for the United States were Matthew Mortensen and Preston Griffall, whose 45.032 second time was good for ninth place. Only 0.731 seconds off the lead. 

Also on Friday, the Calgary World Cup started with the doubles competition.  Each team takes two slides on the track to determine a total time.  WFG-adopted athletes Mark Grimmette and Brian Johnson finished first among the U.S. sliders with a combined 1:28.415 over two runs, and put them in eighth place with a time only 0.56 seconds off first place for the competition.  Also sliding was the team of Matthew Mortensen and Preston Griffall, who finished 14th with a combined time of 1.28.711.  Sadly, due to weight concerns, the third U.S. doubles team of Christian Niccum and Dan Joye were disqualified.

World Cup sliding continued the next day with men’s and women’s competition.  For the men, Tony Benshoof finished the best among the USA Luge team with a sixth place time of 1:30.491, which was 0.423 seconds behind first.  Also sliding was WFG-adopted athlete Bengt Walden, whose combined time of 1:30.625 was good for a tenth place finish.  Rounding out the competition for the U.S. men was Chris Mazdzer, finishing 32nd with a combined time of 1.32.202.

Among the women, the U.S. ladies did well in their first competition.  Finishing seventh was Erin Hamlin, last year’s World Cup winner, with a combined time of 1.34.716 just 1.025 seconds off first place.  Not far behind her was Julia Clukey, finishing with a 1.35.092 for 11th.  Finally, WFG-adopted athlete Kate Hansen, in her first World Cup race, finished 16th with 1:35.421.

In luge, a winner is determined by a fraction of a second.  When less than two seconds separate the first place finisher from the end finisher, you know you’re pretty fast on the ice.  Next, our USA Luge team travel to Igls, Austria for a competition this weekend.  We at World Financial Group can’t wait to see our team slide to victory.

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