LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – After winning the first seeding race and holding the halfway lead 24 hours earlier, Brittney Arndt‘s journey on Sunday to her first Norton Youth A National Luge Championship at Mount Van Hoevenberg was one she did not entirely see coming.
After holding a comfortable overnight lead, the unexpected escapades were about to begin.
Left: Overall Youth A Women's podium: Farquharson, Arndt and Kirkby. Right: Seeding Race #2 podium: Rice, Arndt and Farquharson
“The first run was really rough,” reflected Arndt. “I was actually in third place. My face shield fogged, I hit a couple of walls down the track and luckily I was able to make up that time in the second run and finish in first.”
The Park City, Utah youngster’s first national youth crown came with some trepidation.
“I was kind of nervous about it (the second run). The coaches told me I could make up this time. I could do it. I just tried my best.”
Arndt won the second seeding event by posting the fastest second heat. The total of the four runs over the two days at the Olympic Sports Complex gave her the initial domestic championship of her young career.
Her four heats combined for 3 minutes, 0.649 seconds. Youth Olympic Games competitor Ashley Farquharson, also of Park City, tried to take advantage of Arndt’s duress, but after claiming the fastest heat time in Sunday’s opening run, she settled for the national silver medal in 3:03.049, and third place in the second seeding event.
Sophie Kirkby, of Ray Brook, N.Y., was the national bronze medalist in 3:03.801.
Mackenzie Rice, of Mariposa, Calif., was working her way into contention in the second leg on Saturday, but did not complete the run and was eliminated from the national championship chase. However, she came back on the second day and finished second to Arndt in the seeding competition.
Left: Taylor, Hollander and DiGregorio, the Seeding Race #2 podium. Right: Taylor, Gorsch and Hollander, Youth National Championship podium
Garrett Gorsch also had an interesting journey to the Norton title in Youth A Men. After a gold medal in Saturday’s first seeding race which gave him a substantial midway lead for the nationals, the warmer weather and humidity seemed to magnify some errors.
“It was not a good race today,” said Gorsch, of Park City, who celebrated his birthday on Sunday. “I’m glad I had a really big lead from yesterday’s race. I had two not so great runs. The ice was slower so I couldn’t get away with the small mistakes I made.”
Gorsch was fifth in the final seeding race, but overall, his four attempts down the turning course totaled 3:01.650, just 0.282 of a second in front of Justin Taylor. The Newark, Del. luge racer, who also competed in the Youth Olympic Games, was timed in 3:01.932 and grabbed the silver medal.
The bronze went to Sean Hollander, of Lake Placid, the second seeding race winner. His strong Sunday brought him to the national podium in 3:02.188.
“It was great,” he said. “I had two really clean runs, a lot better than yesterday. This is a really good way to end the season. It was way better than yesterday.”
In a tight Sunday seeding race, Zach DiGregorio, of Medway, Mass., was third, finishing less than 0.25 of a second from Hollander.
Left: Boggess, Arp and Shamis, the Seeding Race #2 podium. Right: Boggess, Shamis and Arp, Youth National Championship podium
In Youth B Men, Gavin Shamis converted his first day lead into a national championship, despite a second trip on Sunday that nearly cost him.
“My second run did not go as planned,” remarked Shamis, a childhood cancer survivor. “I skidded through (curve) 17, hit out of 17 also, but maintained it in 19.”
His margin over Noah Boggess, of Montague, Mich., was merely 0.12 of a second. Shamis posted four heats totaling 3:05.212, with Boggess clocking 3:05.332.
“This is amazing,” continued Shamis. “I was really hoping for it (national championship) but not sure I would get it. Going off this at the end of the season makes me confident I can progress in this sport and go how I want it to.”
Shamis and Boggess will look at the final results and see that the fastest of all on day two was Jett Arp, of Burlington, Vt. Arp had the two best runs of the day, winning the second seeding competition, and using those efforts to bring him to third place on the national rostrum in 3:05.653.
“It was definitely better than yesterday,” commented Arp. “I was having not the best lines from (curve) 12 yesterday. So today I decided to fix that so it would be a lot better.
“It’s fun to actually beat some people. I’m happy with the result because I’m quite a light person on the sled so it’s a huge disadvantage. To be first is really awesome.”
Above: Norton Youth B National Championship podium: Jeskanen, Morrison and Sepucha
Elana Morrison, of Twin Lake, Mich., dominated Youth B Women with the four quickest heats of the weekend, giving her two seeding victories and a national championship.
Morrison accrued a time of 3:04.747, defeating Selena Jeskanen of Peru, N.Y., who was second best in all four runs. Jeskanen’s silver medal came in 3:05.412. Courtney Sepucha, from Concord, Mass., collected the bronze medal in 3:07.072.
Over 50 youth from across the country met in Lake Placid for this three-event weekend series. The results will be used to help determine the composition of next year’s teams, which will be announced May 1.
Racing at Mount Van Hoevenberg resumes March 5-6 with the Norton Junior National Championships and seeding races. Race time is 8 AM ET each day.
The USA Luge website (www.usaluge.org) will carry live top to bottom coverage using the venue’s camera system.
2016 Norton Youth National Championships
Youth A Women's Guest Class Podium: Isabel Wiley, Emily Cetin and Joan Kemper
Above: Brittney Arndt
Above: Gavin Shamis and Jett Arp
Above: Mackenzie Rice