Tucker West slides during the men's singles training run ahead of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 02, 2022 in Yanqing, China.
The names of U.S. luge athletes on the 2022-2023 FIL World Cup tour will look familiar this year. The 2022 Olympians are all returning — Chris Mazdzer, Tucker West, Jonny Gustafson, Summer Britcher, Emily Sweeney, and Ashley Farquharson — as is world cup and world championship veteran Brittney Arndt.
There is one minor change in singles. After spending the past three seasons competing in both singles and doubles, Mazdzer — who won an Olympic silver medal in 2018 — is focusing just on singles again. His doubles teammate, Jayson Terdiman, retired and is now a development coach for USA Luge.
Mazdzer is also stepping back this season, training at home in Utah (rather than at USA Luge headquarters in Lake Placid, New York), skipping several world cups, and spending more time with his wife and 18-month-old son Nico.
In doubles luge, the big news is the addition of women’s doubles to the senior world cup. And the U.S. is the only country fielding three women’s doubles teams on the world cup this season.
U.S. Women’s Doubles Teams Bring Experience
While four of the six women sliding in doubles for USA Luge this season are new to the senior world cup, two have plenty of experience.
In early November, Olympic veterans Summer Britcher and Emily Sweeney announced that they would compete as a doubles team this year (in addition to sliding singles). And they are eager to see where they stack up in world cup competition.
“It's been really cool to be learning and growing when you've been in sport for 16 years, or 40 years like Emily,” said Britcher, joking about her teammate’s long luge career.
Sweeney is also excited about the new challenge. The doubles sled is very different than singles. But they have learned to use their experience.
“There's a reason that we've been able to be successful as singles athletes,” she said. “Bringing those strengths to doubles has been really fun and challenging. It’s also been fun to have someone on the sled with me, too.”
Britcher and Sweeney will join Chevonne Forgan and Sophie Kirkby, and Maya Chan and Reannyn Weiler, who are making their debuts on luge’s senior world cup circuit. [Last season’s women’s doubles world cup was wrapped into the junior world cup circuit and then tacked onto the end of the 2022 junior world championships.]
Forgan and Kirkby are 2022 world championship bronze medalists, and Chan and Weiler finished fourth overall in last season’s world cup doubles standings (and fourth at 2022 world championships).
“It’s super exciting for me to get in all the action and participate in what I’ve been seeing on TV for years,” said Kirkby of luge’s senior world cup tour.
In addition to their world championship bronze, Forgan, 22, and Kirkby, 21, finished on the podium in two world cups last season.