Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the World Financial Group-sponsored USA Luge team participated in the second Nations Cup and World Cup matches of the season in Igls, Austria. Was Igls ready for “the fastest sport on ice”?
Nations Cup racing featured two sliders among the US Men. Chris Mazdzer finished in 13th place with a time of 49.298 seconds, which was only 0.378 seconds slower than first place finisher Daniel Pfister from Austria. This time was good enough to qualify Chris for the World Cup race later that weekend. Sadly, however, fellow US teammate Trent Matheson was disqualified.
Among the women sliding in the Nations Cup, US team member Julia Clukey finished second with a time of 40.219, a mere 0.168 seconds behind Germany’s Corinna Martini. Not far behind Julia was Emily Sweeney, whose 40.324 seconds finish was good for ninth place. Immediately behind Emily was WFG-adopted athlete Kate Hansen, finishing tenth with a time of 40.324. And Emily’s sister Megan came in 13th place with a time of 40.437. Julia, Kate and Megan all qualified for the World Cup race based on their performance here.
Doubles sliding in the Nations Cup featured a USA team finishing first. The team of Matthew Mortensen and Preston Griffall qualified for the World Cup race with a time of 39.664 seconds. Fellow teammates Christian Niccum and Dan Joye finished fifth with a time of 39.918 and also qualified for the World Cup race.
When World Cup racing commenced, the USA Luge team hit the course with anticipation. For the US women, Erin Hamlin finished best with a combined 1:19.858 time, good for ninth place. Julia Clukey finished 12th with a time of 1:20.061. Right behind her was Kate Hansen, whose time of 1:20.169 earned her 13th place. Rounding out the US ladies was Megan Sweeney, coming in 22nd with a time of 1:20.692, which was 1.463 seconds removed from first place.
The men had three sliders in the World Cup race. The best finisher among the US team was Tony Benshoof, who finished 10th with a combined time of 1:38.225- only 0.267 seconds away from first place. WFG-adopted athlete Bengt Walden finished 19th with a time of 1:38.463 and Chris Mazdzer came in 32nd with a time of 1:41.616.
For the doubles competition, the best US team to finish was Matthew Mortensen and Preston Griffall. Their time of 1:19.148 was good for 8th place and only 0.517 seconds off first. Not far behind them was the team of Christian Niccum and Dan Joye, whose 1:19.502 was good for 12th. Finally, WFG-adopted athletes Mark Grimmette and Brian Johnson finished 18th with a time of 1:19.741.
In a relay event, the US team of Bengt, Erin, Matthew and Preston finished fourth with a total time of 2:12.267, which was only 1.403 seconds off first.
Up next for the USA Luge team will be a World Cup and Team Relay race held next weekend in Altenberg, Germany. Keep reading here for all the latest on the USA Luge Team.