LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – With a roster that includes eight Olympians, led by 2014 Sochi bronze medalist Erin Hamlin, USA Luge announced its national team Tuesday. Next season’s World Cup squad will come from the national team.
In addition to Hamlin’s Olympic achievement, the group accounted for a record-tying 13 World Cup medals last season, matching the single-season total of 1996-1997.
Hamlin and fellow Olympians Chris Mazdzer and Tucker West all medaled individually and in team relays last year in the World Cup, and as a result, are exempt from qualifying in the fall for the upcoming World Cup schedule. However, they must compete in those seeding races and Norton National Championships. The remainder of the national team will have the opportunity to qualify in that series for additional World Cup slots.
Hamlin’s 2014 Olympic bronze medal was the first singles medal in team history. The native of Remsen, N.Y. won a Sprint World Cup race last year for her first career win. The three-time Olympian also achieved a World Cup silver medal and a Sprint World Cup silver medal.
Mazdzer, of Saranac Lake, N.Y., continued his march up the World Cup rankings by finished fifth overall last season for the second straight year. The two-time Olympian’s season was highlighted by a Sprint World Cup gold medal and three World Cup bronze medals.
Mazdzer’s reaction time in the team relay remains one of the best on the international circuit. He had a hand in two of the three medals that USA Luge accrued in that discipline.
Last winter, West, of Ridgefield, Conn., made his mark in the second race of the year when he lowered the Lake Placid track record twice en route to a World Cup win. A day later the 2014 Olympian slid the middle leg of a team relay effort that took a silver medal.
He added World Cup silver and bronze medals later in the season, and placed sixth in the overall World Cup men’s standings despite missing several events. Technically a junior, West also claimed a Junior World Championship silver medal.
The men’s group for next year is rounded out by Sochi Olympian Aidan Kelly of West Islip, N.Y. His 2014-2015 campaign was curtailed by foot injuries.
Joining Hamlin on the women’s team are Summer Britcher, Emily Sweeney, Julia Clukey and graduating junior Raychel Germaine.
Just three years ago, Britcher, a 2014 Olympian from Glen Rock, Pa., was part of a U.S. team relay unit with West that captured a gold medal in the Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria.
Two years later she qualified for the Olympic team, and last season, hit her high-water mark in the World Cup by finishing fourth in Winterberg, Germany.
Sweeney, of Suffield, Conn., was the 2013 Junior World Champion and has now risen in the World Cup ranks thanks to fifth and fourth place results last winter in Lake Placid and Koenigssee, Germany, respectively. Sweeney scored her first World Cup medal last January as the lead leg in the Koenigssee team relay.
A Vancouver Olympian, Clukey, of Augusta, Maine, completes the women’s team. Clukey overcame numerous physical issues to become USA Luge’s top ranked woman racer in sixth place overall in 2012-2013. The season was highlighted by a World Cup silver medal in Lake Placid.
Germaine, the final women’s team slider, officially left the junior ranks in February. The Roswell, Ga. athlete raced in the 2012 Youth Olympic Games, Junior World Cups and Junior World Championships. She will now get an opportunity to join the sport’s elite.
In doubles, Sochi Olympians Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman were named to the squad. After racing with other partners through 2014, Mortensen and Terdiman began competing as a doubles team several weeks after returning from Sochi.
They anchored all three U.S. team relay medals last year. Mortensen, of Huntington Station, N.Y. and Terdiman, of Berwick, Pa., finished seventh in the overall doubles standings. Their season’s top efforts were a pair of sixth place results competing against World Cup teams that have many more years together.
Two more doubles teams have been created by team coaches in recent months. Jake Hyrns of Muskegon, Mich. will partner with Anthony Espinoza of Park City, Utah, while Justin Krewson of Eastport, N.Y. will slide with Andrew Sherk of Fort Washington, Pa.
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