Above: Summer Britcher at the start in Koenigssee, Germany on Jan. 4, 2013. AP photo.
KOENIGSSEE, Germany – Summer Britcher led the United States Luge Team’s return to World Cup action Saturday with a 10th place finish in the sixth women’s singles race of the season.
Britcher of Glen Rock, Pa., was nominated to the Sochi Olympic team which hits the ice in one month at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. The 19 year old rallied from 12th place after one heat to claim her third top 10 of the campaign. This winter marks her first full season of World Cup racing.
“I'm really happy with today's race,” said Britcher. “I was having a bit of trouble during my training runs, so it was really satisfying to have two good race runs. Getting 10th place put me into the seeded group, so that's pretty exciting.
”Teammate Erin Hamlin, of Remsen, N.Y., was headed to a top six result until problems near Koenigssee’s 360 degree Kriesel (circle) turn dropped her to 13th. Hamlin, the 2009 World Champion, was nominated to her third Olympic team.
“It was far less than an ideal day for me,” said Hamlin. “I had really good speed and there was the potential to do pretty well, but I completely wasted the opportunity. I made a huge mistake at the bottom of the first run, losing a ton of time. I was actually surprised I made into the top 10. Then there was a big mistake halfway down my second run which ruined any chance of moving up.
“It’s always better to have a bad result and know why, rather than being slow and not knowing the reason. So I guess that should be a silver lining. I’m moving on. From here on out the results count for Olympic seeding, so I’m focusing on the next three weeks. No dwelling.
”The final women’s singles racer nominated to Sochi, Kate Hansen, of La Canada, Calif., 2008 Junior World Champion, staged a comeback of her own Saturday, posting the eighth fastest second heat and improved from 21st to 15th.
Above: Mortensen and Griffall at the start of the first heat.
The lone American entry in doubles, Olympic nominees Matt Mortensen of Huntington Station, N.Y., and Preston Griffall of Salt Lake City, did not finish the opening heat. The same misfortune befell two-time and defending Olympic gold medalists Andreas and Wolfgang Linger of Austria.
The traditional holiday World Cup events here conclude the 12 days of Christmas in the stunning Bavarian Alp villages of Koenigssee and Berchtesgaden. As has been the case over the years, the accompanying five golden rings at this time of the season have usually fallen to the team wearing the golden colors, and Saturday was no different. Germany’s doubles team of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt added to the Christmas theme by claiming their fifth golden ring in six starts.
Germans Natalie Geisenberger and Tatyana Huefner placed 1-2, respectively, although Huefner made her compatriot fight for victory.Huefner, 2010 Olympic champion, led Geisenberger, on her home course, by 0.1 of a second at the break. But the Vancouver Olympic bronze medal winner stormed through the second heat in track record time to claim her sixth victory in succession this year. Geisenberger has won 12 of the past 15 World Cup meets, and has been victorious 22 times in her career.Geisenberger has virtually locked up the overall World Cup title with a perfect 600 points, but Canadian Alex Gough, by finishing third Saturday, has climbed to second place, a career high point.
The winner clocked times of 50.389 and 50.202 seconds, for a 1 minute, 40.591 second total on the technically demanding track that runs along the base of Watzman Mountain.Huefner’s second place time was 1:40.696, while Goff was next in 1:40.922.Britcher, who qualified in the Nations Cup event on Friday, clocked the 10th best time of 1:41.626; Hamlin recorded 1:41.984; Hansen posted 1:42.099.Geisenberger is trailed in the overall World Cup standings by Gough with 401 points, while Huefner is third with 391. Hamlin remains the top U.S. slider in fifth place with 269 points. Hansen is seventh with 232. Britcher is 16th with 164.Wendl and Arlt established a track record of 49.955 in the opening leg and then hid from the field. Their final run of 50.001 gave them the winning time of 1:39.956. Teammates Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken were a distant second in 1:40.253. Canada won its first World Cup doubles medal when Peter Penz and Georg Fischler, of Austria, stumbled in the final run.
Tristan Walker and Justin Snith collected the World Cup bronze medal in 1:40.709, while the Austrians dropped to fourth place.Wendl and Arlt, on the strength of five wins and a silver medal, have 585 overall World Cup points. Eggert and Benecken are second with 445; Penz and Fischler are third with 359.
Mortensen, a first time Olympic team member and Griffall, headed to his second Games, are ninth with 178 World Cup points.
Fellow Americans Christian Niccum and Jayson Terdiman are 18th with 138 points. Niccum of Woodinville, Washington, nominated to his third Olympic team, and Terdiman of Berwick, Pa., going to his first Games, spent the week training and testing equipment in Park City, Utah, and will join the remainder of the team next week in Oberhof, Germany.
The Koenigssee World Cup schedule concludes Sunday with men’s singles followed by the team relay. Action begins at 3:55 AM EST. Get live timing and scoring on the FIL website at www.fil-luge.org.