Last call for the Sochi Express Park City World Cup to officially decide 8 USA Luge Olympic berths

Dec. 11, 2013, 4:56 p.m. (ET)

PARK CITY, Utah – Four luge World Cups completed with one more remaining prior to the holidays. At different points shortly thereafter all nations will decide their Olympic rosters for Sochi, Russia.

Such is the scenario facing the World Cup luge elite as they take their training runs this week on the 2002 Olympic track in the Wasatch Mountains, outside the toney resort of Park City. Races are set for Dec. 13-14.

USA Luge will announce its 10 Sochi nominees, pending United States Olympic Committee approval, in a gala event Saturday night that will be streamed live on the team’s website (www.usaluge.org).

Each country can enter three men’s singles, three women’s singles and two doubles sleds. Team rosters for the new team relay in Sochi will be determined from the 10 members.

To date, two United States athletes have verified their nominations. Chris Mazdzer’s fifth place several weeks ago, stamped his nomination. The Saranac Lake, N.Y. racer was a member of the 2010 Olympic team where he placed 13th. After his recent World Cup fifth place he recorded a career-topping World Cup silver medal last Friday night at frigid Whistler Mountain. Erin Hamlin’s fifth place effort the following evening secured her spot. Hamlin of Remsen, N.Y., is headed to her third Winter Olympics.

But also satisfying selection criteria were Kate Hansen, Tucker West and Aidan Kelly. Hansen, 2008 Junior World Champion from La Canada, Calif., has sixth and seventh place results thus far; West, 2012 Youth Olympic Games gold medalist of Ridgefield, Conn., has posted a pair of 11th places; and Kelly of West Islip, N.Y., has one top 15 and two top 21 results in the books. Taylor Morris of South Jordan, Utah, on home ice, hopes to infiltrate those ranks and force a tie-breaker.

Hansen broke a bone in her foot in an October training accident on the Utah Olympic Park course. She overcame that to put herself in an advantageous position to secure a Sochi ticket.

Another women’s singles athlete, the mercurial Summer Britcher of Glen Rock, Pa., is a junior with boundless potential. She has a World Cup eighth place to her credit this season. A top nine Friday achieves a criteria.

And there’s 2010 Olympian and veteran racer Julia Clukey of Augusta, Maine. A top five delivers her to Sochi, no questions asked. There is the possibility of a race-off, pending Friday’s results. Clukey will be supported in Park City by her mother and nephew, and will also have the confidence of knowing that three years ago on this layout, she scored a World Cup fifth.

If Britcher and Clukey miss their marks, the door will open for Emily Sweeney of Suffield, Conn., and a three-way race-off would ensue. Sweeney, ironically, won the 2013 Junior World Championship 11 months ago in Park City.

Finally three American doubles teams seek two Olympic berths. Matt Mortensen of Huntington Station, N.Y. and 2006 Olympian Preston Griffall of Salt Lake City have a slight upper hand as they need a top 13 on Friday to satisfy a selection criteria.

Jake Hyrns of Muskegon, Mich., and Andrew Sherk of Fort Washington, Pa., require a top 10 to enter the selection mix.

Two-time Olympian Christian Niccum of Woodinville, Wash., and Jayson Terdiman of Berwick, Pa., must nail a top five on Friday to write their ticket to the mountains above the Russian Riviera. Again, the selection drama is based on the race results.

Race times are 11:30 AM MST on Friday (doubles, women’s singles) and 11:15 AM MST on Saturday (men’s singles and team relay). Nations Cup qualifying will precede Thursday at 5 PM MST.

All World Cup action will be streamed live on www.UniversalSports.com, with U.S. double Olympic medalist Brian Martin making his broadcast debut. There will also be live timing and scoring on www.fil-luge.org

NBC Sports Network will air a two-hour show Monday night at 9 PM EST on the Park City competitions and U.S. Olympic team nominations.