Luge Preview
After winning an Olympic bronze medal in women’s singles at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, the U.S. luge team is poised to bring a more experienced roster to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.

For the first time in team history, all 10 Olympians will bring world cup medals to the Games.

Of the 10 athletes who competed in Russia, six were Olympic rookies; in South Korea, the first-timers will number just four. More importantly, those athletes – Emily Sweeney, Taylor Morris and the doubles team of Justin Krewson and Andrew Sherk – showed plenty of speed in achieving their rightful berths.

In 2014, Erin Hamlin became the first American to earn an Olympic medal in singles luge, breaking a 34-year German-Austrian hold on the women’s luge Olympic podium. She tacked on three medals at the 2017 World Championships, increasing her career total to four. The New York native leads a talented core of American women, including fellow 2014 Olympian Summer Britcher and 2013 junior world champion Emily Sweeney.

The top doubles team of Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman secured their second Olympic berths – and first as a team – in just their fourth season working together. No strangers to the world stage, they competed with different partners in Sochi before pairing up. Last season, they finished third in the overall FIL World Cup standings, and anchored the relay team to a world championship silver medal last January.

In men’s singles, Chris Mazdzer will make his third appearance on the Olympic stage, while teammate Tucker West is headed to his second Olympics.

USA Luge continues to build momentum on the international stage with help from a more robust research and development program, aided by Dow and Norton, that places a greater emphasis on analytics and sport technology. As a result, American lugers set a program record with 18 medals during the 2015-16 FIL World Cup circuit and carried that success into the 2016-17 season, earning 11 podium finishes and three world championship medals last winter. 

With a few recent coaching additions, the U.S. team will look to enter the Games with medal contenders in each of the four Olympic events (men’s and women’s singles, doubles, and team relay).

 

Storylines

  • The U.S. national luge team features several members who belong to the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program, including Emily Sweeney, Matt Mortensen and Taylor Morris.

  • Erin Hamlin volunteers with 2010 Olympic champion Steve Mesler (bobsled) as part of his Classroom Champions program, which connects Olympians, Paralympians and hopefuls with students to mentor, motivate and educate youth. In spite of her busy training and competition schedule, Hamlin makes time to speak with kids from at-risk schools via video calls, even during the season.

  • Tucker West’s journey to the Olympic stage began in his backyard. He first fell in love with the sport watching it on TV in 2002, which inspired his father to build a wooden ice track at their Connecticut home. As his passion and knowledge of the sport grew, West eventually transitioned to Lake Placid, New York, to train.

  • Summer Britcher was discovered at a USA Luge Challenge in Pennsylvania. The Challenge welcomes newcomers to the sport by offering anyone the opportunity to test their skills on a plastic sled, while receiving coaching instructions from USA Luge staff and athletes. Britcher’s innate ability was so impressive, she was invited to try the sport on ice in Lake Placid, New York.

  • Justin Krewson, the doubles teammate of Andrew Sherk, is a volunteer firefighter in Lake Placid, New York. A junior member of his hometown fire department in Eastport, he was inspired to volunteer in Lake Placid due to the extensive time he spends there for training. Krewson is also an Eagle Scout. His teammate, Sherk, is a highly skilled skateboarder.

Athletes To Watch

Summer Britcher 
The 2013-14 season was Britcher’s (Glen Rock, Pennsylvania) first on the FIL World Cup tour, which led to her Olympic debut in Sochi. Two seasons ago, she tied for the most world cup wins with three golds and finished fifth overall in the 2015-16 standings. Britcher is the 2017 U23 world champion and scored an early world cup bronze medal this season to secure her Olympic status. Britcher also raced the lead leg for the USA Luge team that earned gold at the Winter Youth Olympic Games Innsbruck 2012.

Erin Hamlin 
Now headed to her fourth Olympic Games and one of the most accomplished athletes on the 2017 U.S. national luge team, Hamlin (Remsen, New York) owns one Olympic bronze medal (2014), two world championship titles (2009, 2017),  four world championship medals total and four world cup wins (as of December 2017). She is considered one of the world’s best drivers and will look ahead to PyeongChang with a greater emphasis on her start.

Chris Mazdzer 
A three-time Olympian, Mazdzer (Saranac Lake, New York) finished a career-best third place in the overall 2015-16 FIL World Cup standings on the strength of five medals, including two golds. He finished 13th at both the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and Sochi, and will be looking to improve on his result in PyeongChang. Known for his tireless work ethic, he consistently has one of the world’s fastest reaction starts in the team relay.

Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman
USA Luge’s top doubles team, Mortensen (Huntington Station, New York) and Terdiman (Berwick, Pennsylvania) competed in Sochi with different partners. Shortly after their Olympic debuts, they joined forces in March 2014 with a four-year plan to compete together in PyeongChang. Their progression has been steady, as they have marched up the world cup ranks in the last three years from seventh to fifth, and last year, earned a team-best third place overall.

Emily Sweeney
Sweeney (Suffield, Connecticut) came very close to qualifying for the Games in 2010 and 2014. In 2010, she was defeated by her sister, Megan, in a special race-off to break a deadlock for the third and final berth. The 2013 junior world champion has collected three world cup silver medals since Sochi, finishing each time behind teammate and travel roommate Erin Hamlin. Known for her strong start, she opened the 2016-17 world cup season with two podium finishes despite recovering from a recent wrist surgery. This year, she earned two top-10 finishes in the first half of the world cup tour.

Tucker West
In 2014, West (Ridgefield, Connecticut) became the youngest American male luger to qualify for the Games at age 18. The 2016-17 season was a breakout year for West, who attends Union College near Albany, New York. At the young age of 21, he has three world cup wins, including two from 2016-17 tour stops in Lake Placid, New York, and Whistler, British Columbia, where he holds the track record. Prior to making his Olympic debut in Sochi, he also won gold while representing the U.S. in the team relay at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games Innsbruck 2012. 

Qualification

The International Luge Federation used the overall world cup rankings to fill quota spots (110 total) for the PyeongChang Games. Each nation may have up to 10 athletes representing their team, including three men’s singles, three women’s singles and two sets of doubles. To earn a spot for the U.S., athletes ranked in the top 37 for men, top 27 for women or top 17 for doubles.

Selection

Selection was based on 2017 World Cup performances, per criteria established by USA Luge. Athletes who were not selected to compete on the 2017 U.S. World Cup Team were not be eligible for consideration. Athletes could pre-qualify for the 2017 U.S. world cup roster based on their results from the 2016-17 world cup season.

USA Luge used race results from the November-December 2017 world cup events to nominate up to 10 athletes for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team - including three in men's singles, three in women's singles, and two doubles teams. U.S. athletes were ranked based on how well they performed in world cup action. More weight was given to a high finish in each individual race over the mere accumulation of points over the full slate of races. If slots remained following the November-December 2017 world cup events, or if ties existed that caused the number of tied individuals to exceed the number of remaining slots, then race-offs could have ensued for the remaining positions.

The U.S. relay is comprised of the athlete with the fastest men's singles run, the athlete with the fastest women's singles run and the team with the fastest doubles run during Olympic competition. The relay event is the last of the four luge events on the Olympic schedule.

Key Dates

Feb. 8-19

Pre-Olympic World Cup test event

PyeongChang, South Korea

Fall

Norton National Championships/seeding races

TBD

Dec. 16

2017 World Cup

Lake Placid, New York

 

2018 U.S. Olympic Team Selection Gala

Lake Placid, New York

*The last of five world cup events in 2017, marking the end of the fall qualification period.