Hooray for Erin Hamlin! The USA Luge team entered the 41st Federation International De Luge De Course World Cup in Lake Placid, NY with hopes of winning gold and making progress towards qualifying for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. And when it was all over, the World Financial Group-sponsored team had members on the medal stand more than once.

In the women’s competition, Erin fought migraine headaches while training over the weekend to slide for a combined 1:28.098 and the Women’s Gold Medal. This is the first since 1993 that a woman not from Germany has taken the top of the medal stand. And while Erin may be reaching for some painkillers in the days to come, she looks forward to defending her world title. As she told usaluge.org, “It will take a lot to stay up here but who knows, anything can happen.” Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger did win silver with a combined run of 1:28.285 (only 0.187 seconds behind Erin) while the Ukraine’s Natalia Yakushenko slid for Bronze with a total time of 1:28.334.

Erin’s teammates on the women’s team also had good showings. Julia Clukey finished fifth with a time of 1:28.662 and Ashley Walden slid to seventh place with a time of 1:28.844. Also sliding was Anastasia Young, in her world championship debut. She finished 14th with a total time of 1:29.626. Everyone at WFG extends a big “high five” to our women’s luge team!

In double’s competition, the US duo of Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin have placed in the top ten consistently all season. But this sliding duo has always set their sights high. This weekend in Lake Placid was no exception as Mark and Brian slid to a combined time of 1:27.611, which was enough to win them the Bronze Medal in the World Championships. This is their first international luge medal in two years. Italy’s Gerhard Plankensteiner and Oswald Hasselrieder won gold with a 1:27.401 run and Germany’s Andre Florschütz claimed the silver with a total time of 1:27.458. Mark and Brian weren’t alone in the top ten, US wise. The team of Christian Niccum and Daniel Joye slid for a sixth place finish. Also finishing in the top ten were Matt Mortensen and Preston Griffall for ninth. All of us at World Financial Group applaud your finishes.

And we at WFG would be remiss if we didn’t mention the men’s team. Bengt Walden’s race was a personal best. His combined slides of 1:45.242 were enough to put him in sixth place. Bengt is only in his second season with the USA Luge team. Christopher Mazder placed 14th at 1:45.981. Teammate Tony Benshoof, fresh off of his back surgery, placed 18th with a 1:46.163 combined while Robby Huerbin, another team member in their first world championship race, finished with a 1:46.318 time, good for 21st place.

In the relay, the combined efforts of Bengt, Erin, Mark and Brian totaled 2:44.084, good enough for sixth place. Germany took the gold. But everyone at World Financial Group eagerly awaits more luge action over Valentine’s Day weekend in Calgary and the following weekend in Whistler, BC. Be sure to visit usaluge.org for more information on the fastest sport on ice.

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