After 7 World Cup medals in December, USA Luge set to resume season this weekend in Bavaria

Dec. 31, 2014, 12:35 p.m. (ET)

KOENIGSSEE, Germany – Nine athletes comprising the United States luge team landed in Munich Tuesday morning and then drove the remaining two hours to this upscale Bavarian resort, alongside Berchtesgaden, where the World Cup tour will resume Saturday and Sunday.

The traditional stop in Koenigssee in early January marks the end of the 12 days of Christmas, and the beginning of 30 days in Germany.

Also of note as racing resumes is the fact that after winning seven medals last month, the United States has Olympians Erin Hamlin, Chris Mazdzer and Tucker West ranked third-fourth-fifth in the World Cup, respectively. It’s the highest Mazdzer and West have ever been ranked in the tour standings, while Hamlin reached that perch early in 2010-2011. The three luge racers have accounted for six of the American team’s seven medals to date, with each collecting a pair. The remaining medal came in the Lake Placid team relay.

The achievements mark the organization’s highest medal total since 2005-2006 when the team had 11 for the season. But with Koenigssee’s technically demanding track waiting in just a matter of days, yesterday’s accolades are old news.

German Felix Loch, double Olympic champion and four-time World Champion, leads the men’s World Cup standings. Italy’s Dominik Fischnaller is second, Wolfgang Kindl of Austria third followed by Mazdzer of Saranac Lake, N.Y. and West of Ridgefield, Conn.

Mazdzer has a gold and bronze to his World Cup credit this winter, while West has collected gold and silver medals. The latter racer became the first American man to win a singles race in 17 years after Wendel Suckow’s pre-Olympic victory in Nagano.

Aidan Kelly of West Islip, N.Y., a member of the Sochi team, had a career best seventh place in Lake Placid on Dec. 5.

The top three in the women’s World Cup are identical to the results of the Sochi Olympic race 10 and a half months ago. Gold medalist Natalie Geisenberger and silver medalist Tatyana Huefner, both of Germany, head the standings with Geisenberger, on the strength of four wins, on top. Huefner is next, followed by 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Erin Hamlin of Remsen, N.Y. third, 22 points behind Huefner. The American has a pair of silvers to her credit this winter.

Emily Sweeney of Suffield, Conn., the 2013 Junior World Champion, is seventh on the season, highlighted by career best fifth place in Lake Placid.

Summer Britcher of Glen Rock, Pa., another Sochi Olympian, was right behind Sweeney in Lake Placid. That sixth place performance was her personal chart topper in just her second season on the World Cup.

Vancouver Olympic team member Julia Clukey of Augusta, Maine, seeks the form that led her to a World Cup silver medal and a Norton National Championship nearly two years ago. Clukey was the highest ranked American in 2012-2013, but has struggled this season with new equipment and consistency.

In doubles, the surprise of the season has been the dominance of the “other” German team. Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken, who have also won four times, have raced right past 2014 Olympic gold medalists Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, who finally won the Calgary sprint World Cup.

Matt Mortensen of Huntington Station, N.Y. and teammate Jayson Terdiman of Berwick, Pa. are seventh in the overall World Cup doubles rankings in their first year together. They have been sixth and seventh in discipline races, and also anchored the team relay bronze medal in Lake Placid.

Nations Cup qualifying starts the weekend on Friday at 3:30 AM Eastern Time. Women’s singles and doubles are set for 6 AM Eastern Time Saturday, followed by Sunday’s men’s singles and team relay, starting at 5:05 AM Eastern Time.

Follow all the action with live timing and scoring at www.fil-luge.org