USA Luge Norton USA Luge Yout... After Nations Cup qu...

After Nations Cup qualifying USA Luge lineup set for World Cup opener

Nov. 15, 2013, 11:22 a.m. (ET)

Live stream available on Universal Sports

LILLEHAMMER, Norway - The United States Luge Team qualified all of its singles racers in Friday’s Nations Cup qualifying events for the World Cup opener in Lillehammer this weekend. Top singles athletes in the Nations Cup field were Aidan Kelly, ninth place in the men’s race, while Emily Sweeney tied for 10th among the women.Luge fans should check www.universalsports.com for live streaming of World Cup events throughout the 2013-2014 season including this weekend.Kelly, of West Islip, N.Y., had consistently strong training runs all week on the 1994 Olympic track. He posted a time of 50.054 seconds and placed 0.3 of a second behind Russian winner Alexandr Peretjagin as that nation swept all three gold medals on Friday."I had some really great training runs this week, but unfortunately that didn’t translate all that well today," said Kelly. "I had some issues on the start that more or less stuck with me down the track. It started snowing towards the middle of the race and going 47th didn’t really benefit me. But I’m elated to have qualified and I’m very much looking forward to having better runs this Sunday."Youth Olympic Games gold medal winner Tucker West, of Ridgefield, Conn, finished 12th in 50.121; Joe Mortensen, of Huntington Station, N.Y. was 15th with a time of 50.369; Taylor Morris, of South Jordan, Utah, took 16th place in 50.467.Chris Mazdzer, of Saranac Lake, N.Y., who pre-qualified for this year’s national team based on last season’s results, was exempt from the Nations Cup event. The 2010 Olympian and current Norton National Champion advanced into the first seed of athletes based on his three most recent international results dating back to last season.Sweeney, the 2013 Junior World Champion from Suffield, Conn., led a trio of U.S. women with a time of 48.686. That was 0.34 of a second from gold medalist Ekaterina Baturina.Normally Sweeney’s effort would have advanced her to Saturday’s women’s World Cup event. Despite the performance she cannot advance beyond the Nations Cup here and in Igls, Austria next week. USA Luge determined in the off season that the top four in the seeding events last month would be officially entered in the first two World Cup events. Sweeney finished fifth in the October series.

However, starting with the third World Cup in Winterberg, Germany, the competition will be wide open, with all those who race in the Nations Cup having equal opportunity to start on the weekend.

Summer Britcher, of Glen Rock, Pa., was 14th in 48.823, with Norton National Champion Kate Hansen, of La Canada, Calif., 15th after clocking 48.879. The 2008 Junior World Champion was headed to a possible podium finish Friday before encountering problems in Lillehammer’s final curves.

Hansen continues to recover from a broken bone in her right foot, an injury suffered in a Park City, Utah training run last month.

Britcher and Hansen will be joined in Saturday’s World Cup competition by Julia Clukey, of Augusta, Maine, and Erin Hamlin, of Remsen, N.Y. The latter two are also pre-qualified and exempt from the Nations Cup.

Clukey had career and team best performances a year ago. The Vancouver Olympian finished sixth in the overall World Cup rankings to lead all Americans. Her season was highlighted by a personal best World Cup silver medal in February.

Hamlin is a two-time Olympian and 2009 World Champion who placed seventh in the World Cup standings. She scored a World Cup bronze medal in Lillehammer four years ago when the tour last visited the Hunderfossen Olympic site.

The U.S. put two sleds in the doubles field, but neither advanced to the World Cup. Matt Mortensen, of Huntington Station, N.Y. and 2006 Olympian Preston Griffall, of Salt Lake City, did not have to qualify due to their first seed status and will be the U.S. doubles entry Saturday morning.Christian Niccum, of Woodinville, Wash., a two-time Olympian and partner Jayson Terdiman, of Berwick, Pa., started strongly in doubles and had the fastest split time early in the run, but gave it back in the snowy conditions to place 13th. They were 0.9 of a second off the pace.

Teammates Jake Hyrns, of Muskegon, Mich. and Andrew Sherk, of Fort Washington, Pa. took 18th place, 1.63 seconds from winners Vladislav Yuzhakov and Vladimir Mahknutin.

Saturday’s events begin at 4 AM Eastern Time with doubles, followed at 6:25 AM Eastern 
Time by women’s singles. 

The International Luge Federation (FIL) website will provide live timing and scoring.