LILLEHAMMER, Norway – Despite hitting the wall at curve 13 in both heats, Tucker West of Ridgefield, Conn. maintained his speed on the 1994 Olympic track in Lillehammer, Norway and collected a silver medal Friday at the Junior Luge World Championships.
After scoring a gold medal this season in the Lake Placid World Cup race followed by a silver medal in Calgary’s Sprint World Cup, the achievement marked his final singles race in the international junior ranks. The Sochi Olympian will close his junior career in Saturday’s team relay, the event that saw him contribute to a silver medal last year.
“Both runs I took a pretty hard hit out of (curve) 13 and bled a lot of time,” said West. “So it’s nice to see that I’m carrying speed since we’ll be back here for the World Cup (in two weeks).
“I came here hoping to win, but I can still be thrilled with second place. It’s the best result I’ve had in junior worlds.”
The 19 year old, also part of a gold medal in the team relay at the 2012 Youth Olympic Games, was fourth after the first leg and rallied to finish 0.04 behind winner Roman Repilov of Russia. Repilov, the Junior World Cup overall leader, staged his own comeback in the final run as he improved from second place.
The winner’s two heats totaled 1 minute, 39.823 seconds. West, a student at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., was timed in 1:39.866. Nico Gleirscher jumped from seventh place at the mid-point to claim the bronze medal in 1:39.972.
West added that after getting many runs here in the opening training camp of the fall season, the track changed.
“In the fall I was really confident with the track,” he continued. “But throughout the time we’ve been away, the ice on it built up which changes the profiles of the curves and how the track works in general. So this trip around it was like a new track for me. Things just didn’t go according to plan. Training was not the best for me throughout the week. It was a struggle every single day and that reflected in the race.”
Riley Stohr of Whitehall, Mich., fifth after one run, drifted back to 14th place, 0.8 of a second off the pace. It marked Stohr’s second start in a Junior World Championship event. He finished 17th in the 2014 event. Elijah Pedriani of New Haven, Vt., took 17th, over a second behind Repilov.
The women’s race saw Gracie Weinberg of Middlebury, Vt. take 17th in 1:37.827 in her Junior World Championship debut.
Raychel Germaine of Roswell, Ga. was 10th at the intermission and having an extraordinary second run before encountering problems at curve 13. The tricky section, which has victimized many luge racers over the past 20 plus years, caused Germaine to drift back to 23rd place. Brittney Arndt of Park City, Utah, was 27th.
Germany’s Jessica Tiebel continued the rally theme that existed Friday by overtaking first run leader Viktoria Demchenko of Russia. Demchenko, whose father Albert Demchenko won three Olympic silver medals prior to retiring after Sochi, was the silver medalist. She was in the 2014 Olympic selection mix.
Tiebel’s runs totaled 1:36.639, with Demchenko merely 0.006 slower. The bronze medal went to World Cup racer Sandra Robatscher of Italy, 2014 silver medalist, in 1:36.883.
The Lillehammer program concludes Saturday with doubles competing at 10 AM local time, followed by the team relay. The duo of Justin Krewson of Eastport, N.Y. and Tristan Jeskanen of Peru, N.Y., will carry the banner for USA Luge in the doubles race.
They were 10th in the 2014 Junior World Championships and made their World Cup debut last month in Lake Placid with a 13th place result.