Gustafson, Miller, Hollander and Kirkby win Norton Youth National Championships
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – Jonny Gustafson, Hannah Miller, Sean Hollander and Sophie Kirkby finished the weekend of March 22-23 as National Champions after competing in the Norton Youth National Seeding Races in Lake Placid.
The national champions for the Youth A and Youth B races were decided by a four-run total time, the same format of the Olympics singles competition. Each athlete had two runs in the seeding race on Saturday and two more in Sunday’s seeding race. The fastest total time of the four runs decided the winner.
The Youth A competition features athletes born in 1996-99, while Youth B is for those born in 2000 and 2001.
Gustafson of Massena, N.Y., was able to win both gold medals in Saturday and Sunday’s Youth A Men’s seeding races driving him into first place overall ahead of Elijah Pedriani in second and Jake Farquharson in third. Gustafson’s heats of 44.683 seconds and 45.243 seconds gave him a total time of 1 minute, 29.926 seconds.
Pedriani of New Haven, Vermont, took second place both days to win the silver medal. After the first run on Saturday, Pedriani found himself sitting in fifth place after a time of 46.161, but a much faster second run moved him into second. Pedriani’s total time of 1:31.711 was 1.785 seconds behind Gustafson’s winning pace. Farquharson of Park City, Utah, was in third after the first run and held suit to win the bronze medal and join Gustafson and Pedriani on the podium. His runs of 45.730 seconds and 46.210 seconds gave him a total time of 1:31.940, 2.014 seconds behind Gustafson and just 0.229 seconds out of second place.
On Sunday, Gustafson stayed consistent with like his runs the previous day. With heats of 45.176 seconds and 45.141 seconds for a two run total of 1:30.317, he was able to edge Pedriani by 1.762 seconds for the day. Pedriani finished the day at 1:32.079 for his second consecutive silver medal. Pedriani was able to widen his gap ahead of Farquharson by another 0.277 seconds whose third place finish kept an identical podium for both days.
Blake Hagberg of Utica, N.Y., finished in fourth place on Saturday and sixth place on Sunday to give him fourth place overall for the National Championships. Parker Vance of Orangeville, Pa., used a pair of fifth place finishes to round out the top-five.
Gustafson’s four-run total time of 3:00.243 placed him 3.547 seconds ahead of Pedriani and 4.053 seconds ahead of Farquharson.
In the Youth A Women’s races, Miller of Rome, N.Y., won a silver medal on Saturday and a gold medal on Sunday to win the National Championship. Katy Simi of Park City, Utah, won the gold medal on Saturday after heats of 44.550 seconds and 45.062 seconds. Her total time of 1:29.612 seconds was 0.558 seconds ahead of Miller’s second place time of 1:30.170. Gracie Weinberg of Middlebury, Vermont, finished in third place to round out Saturday’s podium, 0.656 seconds behind Simi and a mere 0.098 seconds out of second place.
Positions four through seven were separated by 0.183 seconds. Mackenzie Rice of Mariposa, Calif., finished 1.344 seconds behind Simi to take fourth place. Going into her second run, Rice was behind Courtney Yando by 0.029 seconds, but she was able to slip ahead of Yando by 0.035 seconds. Yando of Brainardsville, N.Y., finished in fifth place on the day. Sydney Axton of Port Byron, N.Y., and Caitlin Bubel of Park City, Utah, finished sixth and seventh, respectively. Axton was 1.438 seconds off the pace, while Bubel was 1.527 seconds behind.
While the Youth A Men’s race had an identical podium on both Saturday and Sunday, that was not at all the case in the Youth A Women’s race.
After finishing in second place on Saturday, Miller was able to edge out Weinberg by 0.351 seconds to win the gold medal on Sunday. Weinberg followed up her third place finish with the silver medal on Sunday. Sunday’s race had a new addition to the podium after Brittney Arndt, who finished ninth on Saturday, put together heats of 45.903 seconds and 45.626 seconds for a total time of 1:31.529 to win the bronze medal.
After battling for the fourth and fifth positions on Saturday, Yando and Rice switched positions from the previous day with Yando finishing in fourth and Rice finishing in fifth.
Simi, who was the gold medalist on Saturday, faltered on her first run and found herself in 11th place going into her second run. Simi overcame the difficulties she had in her first heat to post the fastest time of the day with a 44.791 to move her into sixth place.
Axton (seventh place) and Bubel (eighth place) were again a part of a tight pack of sliders where third place and eighth place were separated by only 0.653 seconds.
Miller’s total time of 3:00.713 was the winning time for the weekend. She finished 0.449 ahead of silver medalist Weinberg and 0.982 seconds ahead of bronze medalist Simi. Rice finished in fourth place overall by just 0.006 seconds ahead of Yando who took fifth place.
After her bronze medal on Sunday, Arndt finished in seventh place, sandwiched between Axton in sixth place overall and Bubel in eighth place.
In the Youth B Men’s races, Hollander of Lake Placid, N.Y., won both gold medals on the weekend to take first place overall in the National Championships. Hollander shared the podium with Duncan Biles and Justin Bistrovich on both Saturday and Sunday.
Biles of Herriman, Utah, won the silver medal on Saturday and won bronze on Sunday while Bistrovich of Syracuse, N.Y. took bronze on Saturday and silver on Sunday in the field of 17 racers.
In the overall standings, Biles’ total time of 3:08.216 was good enough to give him the silver medal ahead of Bistrovich. Hollander who won Saturday’s race by a comfortable 0.820 seconds margin, stretched his lead to 3.512 seconds after winning Sunday’s race by 2.665 seconds.
Evan Schiefelbein of Indianapolis, Ind., used a fifth place finish on Saturday and a fourth place finish on Sunday to take fourth place for the weekend while Zachary DiGregorio of Medway, Mass., finished in seventh place on Saturday and eighth place on Sunday for a sixth place finish. Alanson Owen of Park City, Utah, finished twelfth on Saturday, but came back with a fourth place finish on Sunday, narrowly missing the podium. Owen finished the weekend with a tenth place finish.
In the final race of the weekend, Kirkby of Ray Brook, N.Y., was able to overcome a third place finish on Saturday to win the gold medal on Sunday and give her this year’s Youth B Women’s National Championship.
On Saturday, Kaylee Thomas edged Chevonne Forgan by 0.027 seconds to take first place and the gold medal. Thomas of North Chelms, Mass., had a total time of 1:33.295. Forgan of Chelmsford, Mass., won the silver medal after beating Kirkby by just 0.014 seconds. Kirkby’s heats on Saturday were almost identical with times of 46.667 seconds and 46.669 seconds.
Sunday’s podium featured the same three athletes on the podium, but this time Kirkby was the winner. Kirkby’s consistency showed when she again put together almost identical heats of 46.373 seconds and 46.371 for a total time of 1:32.744.
Forgan won the silver medal again, finishing 0.762 seconds behind Kirkby. With the two silver medals, Forgan completed the weekend in second place with a total time of 3:06.828, 0.748 seconds off the pace of Kirkby. Saturday’s gold medal winner, Thomas, finished in third place on Sunday which moved her back into third place for the weekend.
Courtney Sepucha of Concord, Mass., finished in fifth place on Saturday and sixth place on Sunday to finish in fifth place overall.
The USA Luge season will conclude after the Junior National Seeding Races and National Championships which will take place on March 29-30 in Lake Placid. The races can be seen live by clicking on the following links:
Saturday, March 29: www.usaluge.org/live/event?id=121
Sunday, March 30: www.usaluge.org/live/event?id=122
Interview with 2014 Norton Youth B National Champion Sophie Kirkby
Interview with 2014 Norton Youth B National Champion Sean Hollander
The medalists of the 2014 Norton Youth National Championships
Norton Youth A Women's National Champions, left to right: Gracie Weinberg, Hannah Miller and Katy Simi
Norton Youth A Men's National Champions, left to right:Elijah Pedriani, Jonny Gustafsen and Jake Farquharson
Norton Youth B Women's National Champions, left to right: Chevonne Forgan,Sophie Kirkby, Kaylee Thomas
Norton Youth B Men's National Champions left to right: Duncan Biles, Sean Hollander, Justin Bistrovich
Norton Youth A Seeding race #2 top three women, left to right: Gracie Weinberg Hanna Miller, Brittney Arndt
Youth A Seeding race #2 top three men, left to right: Elijah Pedriani, Jonny Gustafsen and Jake Farquharson
Norton Youth B Seeding race #2 top three women, left to right: Chevonne Forgan,Sophie Kirkby, Kaylee Thomas
Norton Youth B Seeding race #2 top three men, left to right: Justin Bistrovich, Sean Hollander, Duncan Biles