LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – The USA Luge National Team is in high anticipation of hitting the ice for the first time this fall in Lillehammer, Norway. The Americans, who will train on the 1994 Olympic course from Oct. 3-9, will be joined by most of the nations who compete under the banner of the International Luge Federation.

“I’m excited to get the season started again,” stated Sochi Olympian and doubles racer Matt Mortensen of Huntington Station, N.Y. “Jayson (Terdiman, doubles partner) and I have been working hard this summer and are looking forward to compete again. When we go to Lillehammer we’ll be looking to get as many training runs as we can to prepare for the rest of the season.” 

Mortensen and Terdiman, of Berwick, Pa., also a Sochi Olympian, finished fifth in last year’s World Cup standings in just their second season together.

“I feel like I'm a 14-year-old again….so ready to get back on ice and sliding,” stated Terdiman. “Matt and I have worked incredibly hard for the third summer in a row together, and getting to show the world what we're capable of is very exciting. We both had the best overall result of our careers last year, and we plan on building from that experience during this season.

“I can't wait to be back in Lillehammer during this time of year. It's always super beautiful.”

The Lillehammer camp, with two sliding sessions daily as well as dryland training, will conclude on Oct. 9 with the Lillehammer Cup exhibition race, featuring many of the World Cup tour’s top athletes.

“I’m excited and counting the days until we get back on ice,” said 2014 Olympian Summer Britcher, of Glen Rock, Pa., the recent indoor start champion and fifth-ranked in last season’s World Cup. “I’m pretty excited to see how I compare to the rest of the world soon.”

Tucker West, of Ridgefield, Conn., the five-time men’s indoor start champion, is also anxious to test the remainder of his sliding.

“In the past, I’ve lost a little bit of form switching over to the full track,” said West. “This year I really feel like my (start) form has been hammered out time and time again. So I feel like I’ll have an easier transition going onto the artificial track.”

In addition to the Olympic Winter Games, Lillehammer has hosted many World Cup events, the World Championships, and in recent years, has been the first course around the world to open.

“The changing of the leaves here in Lake Placid coincides with the team’s departure for Norway, and looking outside the window right now I would say it’s about that time,” said two-time Olympian Chris Mazdzer of Saranac Lake, N.Y., who finished a career high third on the 2015-2016 overall World Cup list. “This summer for me has been incredibly busy in terms of travel, but despite being in a different location practically every week, I have been able to maintain my primary focus on training. 

“The week prior to our departure for Norway I had personal best start times at our indoor facility and am continuing to set personal records in the weight room. For the first time in my career, I can say that I am both physically and mentally ready for the season to begin. Regardless, I’m sure I’ll be nervous for the first run because it takes a few runs for my body to get back up to speed.” 

The 1994 Olympic layout has just enough intricacies to keep the athletes particularly focused after being away from the ice for seven months.

“The first on ice training every year is pretty exciting,” said Sochi Olympic bronze medalist and three-time Olympian Erin Hamlin of Remsen, N.Y., fourth last year on the World Cup tour. “Everyone has put a lot of work in all summer, and getting the chance to put it to use and see where we are for the real deal is great.

“Whenever the weather starts turning chilly, there is a growing anticipation for sliding. Then it always sneaks right up on you and we're off and running. But I know I'm excited and looking forward to it. Being able to get on ice so early and have it be in an international setting is a great way to kick off the season.”

Upon USA Luge’s return to Lake Placid, a group of National and Junior National Team members will join them on the ice when the Mount Van Hoevenberg course welcomes sliders in mid-October, weather permitting.

The pre-season schedule shows the start of domestic racing with the Norton National Championships Oct. 28-29 in Lake Placid. The Oct. 29 runs will also count as the first of three seeding races. The second seeding competition is set for Nov. 5 on the 2010 Olympic track at Whistler, B.C., followed by the final seeding race Nov. 11 in Park City, Utah, site of two U.S. Olympic medals during the 2002 Winter Games.

The cumulative results of these fall races will determine the United States World Cup squad for the first four meets of the year.

The 2016-2017 World Cup season gets underway Nov. 26-27 in Winterberg, Germany, followed by stops in Lake Placid (Dec. 2-3), Whistler (Dec. 9-10) and Park City (Dec. 16-17).

 

Also heading to Lillehammer:

--Emily Sweeney (Suffield, Conn.)

--Raychel Germaine (Roswell, Ga.)

--Brittney Arndt (Park City, Utah)*

--Grace Weinberg (Pittsfield, Vt.)*

--Taylor Morris (South Jordan, Utah)

--John Fennell (Rouses Point, N.Y.)

--Jonny Gustafson (Massena, N.Y.)*

--Jake Hyrns (Muskegon, Mich.) and Anthony Espinoza (Park City, Utah)

*indicates Junior National Team member