Dec 12, 2022
WHISTLER, British Columbia — For the first time since 2019, the FIL World Cup circuit raced in North America, returning to the 2010 Olympic venue in Whistler, British Columbia this past weekend. The competition kicked off with the men’s single event where German Felix Loch won the 50th gold medal of his career.
Loch set a track record en route to securing the gold medal with a time of one minute, 39.619 seconds. The result placed him seven wins behind the record held by Italian Armin Zggeler.
Austria’s Wolfgang Kindl finished three-hundredths of a second behind Loch in 1:39.653. Dominik Fischnaller of Italy, took the bronze with a time of 1:39.689.
Tucker West of Ridgefield, Connecticut, a three-time World Cup winner on the 2010 Olympic track, led the U.S. men, placing fifth in 1:39.914.
“It’s nice to finally be back in North America after the hiatus from COVID,” West said in a statement. “To see smiling fans is always fun, and we had a lot of family and friends here so that was great. The race went well for me, and I think it’s a step in the right direction. The starts went very well today, and I think that definitely helps with the speed on this track with such a flat section at the top. We’ll see how that speed translates into Park City next week.”
2018 Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer placed 10th in his first World Cup race of the season. Mazdzer, a Saranac Lake native and Salt Lake City resident, will only compete in the North American races this season. Jonny Gustafson, of Massena, placed 12th.
Kindl sits at the top of the overall World Cup point standings with 255. Austrian Nico Gleirscher is second with 146 and Fischnaller third with 195 points. Team USA is led by Gustafson with 124 points in eighth and West in ninth with 115 points. Mazdzer is in 21st with 36 points after only competing in one event.
Austria’s Madeleine Egle continued her perfect season, winning the women’s competition in a time of 1:17.137 seconds. Egle edged past Germany’s Julia Taubitz, who took second place in 1:17.161. Germany’s Merle Frabel took bronze in 1:17.182.
Summer Britcher, a three-time Olympian from Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, paced Team USA in eighth, thanks to a strong second heat. Emily Sweeney, of Lake Placid, was fifth after the first heat. She had trouble at the start of her second run and dropped to 10th.
Brittany Arndt, of Park City, Utah, placed 12th. Ashley Farquharson, also from Park City, did not qualify.
Egle leads the overall World Cup point standings with 300. Taubitz is in second with 225 and Sweeney is third with 206. Britcher sits in ninth with 127, Farquharson is 13th with 86 and Arndt is 16th with 54.
Following an Austrian sweep last weekend, Germany took the top two spots on the podium with Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken setting a track record of 38.249 seconds on their second run and clenching the gold medal with a time of one minute 16.554 seconds. The silver went to Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt of Germany, who missed the gold by five-hundredths of a second, with a time of 1:16.605. The Austria team of Thomas Gatt and Martin Schpf placed third after their first-place finish in Igls with a time of 1:16.740.
USA Luge men’s doubles Zack DiGregorio, of Medway, Massachusetts, and Sean Hollander, of Lake Placid, sat in 12th place going into the second run, ultimately placing eighth. Duncan Segger, of Lake Placid, and Dana Kellogg, of Chesterfield, Massachusetts, who kicked off the men’s competition, were 10th.
Gatt/Schopf hold the lead in overall World Cup standings with 230 points, followed by Germany’s Eggert/Benecken in second with 215 points, and Austria’s Yannick Muller and Armin Frauscher with 204 points. DiGregorio/Hollander are in ninth with 123 points, and Kellogg/Segger are 16th with 56 points.
It was a fight to the finish in women’s doubles, with just .056 separating the top three teams, but Italy’s Andrea Vtter and Marion Oberhofer came out on top. Vtter/Oberhofer won the gold with a time of 1:17.912 after securing a track record on their second run with a time of 38.896. The pair took the World Cup champion bib away from Selina Egle and Lara Kipp from Austria who placed second in 1:17.953.
The start record was broken by Germany’s Jessica Degenhardt and Cheyenne Rosenthal in 3.368, earning the team a bronze medal with a time of 1:17.968.
Team USA’s Britcher and Sweeney did record a track record on their first run, but it was taken away by the Italian team. The American duo sat in second place but dropped to fourth place after trouble at the bottom portion during their second heat.
“I wish we could’ve put together a cleaner run, but that’s racing,” Britcher said. “It’s good to know the speed is there and I’m excited to move on and get on the ice in Park City.”
Chevonne Forgan, of Chelmsford, Massachussets, and Sophie Kirkby, of Ray Brook, finished in fifth. Maya Chan, of Chicago, Illinois, and Reannyn Weiler, of Whitesboro, experienced a heart-wrenching crash at the end of the track, but still finished the race and landed in seventh place.
Egle/Kipp lead the overall World Cup standings with 285 points, followed by Vtter/Oberhofer with 255 points, and Degenhardt/Rosenthal with 191 points. The Americans follow with Britcher/Sweeney in fifth place earning 175 points, Forgan/Kirkby in sixth with 143 points and Chan/Weiler in seventh with 142 points.
Germany took home the gold medal in the first team relay of the season with a time of 2:04.222, outracing their competitors in all disciplines.
Coming in a close second was Latvia with a time of 2:04.369. Austria’s Egle experienced a skid, but the doubles team of Gatt/Schpf took home the bronze in 2:04.949.
West started with a strong exchange time for Team USA, but some minor slips by Britcher and a strong run from DiGregorio/Hollander kept the team in the top five, securing a fifth-place finish.
World Cup action returns to the U.S. for the first time since 2019 next week, Dec. 16-17, in Park City, Utah. World Championships are slated to take place in Oberhof, Germany on Jan. 27-29, 2023.
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