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Mortensen and Terdiman 9th and Hamlin 11th in World Cup finals

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – On the penultimate day of the 2014-2015 season, USA Luge returned to the site of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games luge competitions Saturday with a ninth place finish from the doubles team of Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman, followed by 11th from Sochi Olympic bronze medal winner Erin Hamlin.

The campaign ends Sunday at the Sanki Sliding Center with two more events, and brings to an end a long road trip for United States athletes that started in late December.

A year ago Mortensen and Terdiman raced at the Sochi Winter Games but with different partners. Returning to the scene as a first-year team, they finished 1.3 seconds behind German winners Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt.

Mortensen of Huntington Station, N.Y. and Terdiman of Berwick, Pa. had a two-heat time of 1 minute, 40.922 seconds and concluded the World Cup doubles season in seventh place.

Wendl and Arlt, despite winning six of the last eight races, fell 16 points short in their attempt to overtake teammates and World Cup champions Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken. The latter sled opened the season with four straight wins while Wendl and Arlt struggled to find the form that brought them the Olympic gold medal on this track.

Eggert and Benecken finished with 1,071 overall World Cup points, while Wendl and Artl totaled 1,055.

The finale was no contest as Bavaria-based Wendl and Arlt, with the two fastest heats of the event, totaled 1:39.559. It was their 29th career victory. They were nearly 0.3 of a second ahead of runners-up Peter Penz and Georg Fischler of Austria. Latvia’s Sics brothers, Andris and Juris, who won Olympic bronze here last February, surrendered second place in the final leg and settled for another bronze medal, in 1:40.137. They were third on the winter season with 749 points.

Germany and Russia dominated the women’s singles contest, with the two nations occupying the top eight places. Dajana Eitberger of Germany led the way with her first career victory in a come-from-behind effort that overtook Russia’s first run leader Tatiana Ivanova.

Eitberger was not a member of her Olympic team 12 months ago, yet she held off the charging efforts of compatriot and Sochi Olympic champion Natalie Geisenberger by just 0.01 of a second. Geisenberger clinched the World Cup season-long trophy earlier this month.

The second heat shuffle saw Ivanova, seventh at the Olympics here, drop from first to third, while Geisenberger improved from third to second and Eitberger from second to the winner’s circle.

Hamlin of Remsen, N.Y., the lone American in the field, had the 11th best run of each segment on Sanki’s long course that features three uphill sections.

Eitberger’s total time was 1:40.510 to Geisenberger’s 1:40.520. Ivanova was next in 1:40.601. The 24 year old Eitberger placed second to her teammate in the year long race.

Hamlin clocked a combined 1:41.645, losing time at the bottom of the track in each heat. Nevertheless, the three-time Olympian and 2009 World Champion finished fifth on the season behind four Germans. The most successful singles racer in USA Luge history ended with 624 World Cup points, highlighted by one gold and two silver medals this year. Hamlin also set the track record in Altenberg, Germany.

Emily Sweeney of Suffield, Conn. finished ninth in the overall World Cup; 2014 Olympian Summer Britcher of Glen Rock, Pa. was 12th; and 2010 Olympian Julia Clukey of Augusta, Maine was 21st.

The final races of the season take place on Sunday with men’s singles at 3:35 AM ET, followed by the team relay. With Germany having clinched the overall crown in the relay several weeks ago, the U.S. will strive to finish the year in second place. Russia, however, only trails the Americans by 10 World Cup points.

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