LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – On a day that broke clear and cold after another warm spell, four USA Luge youth racers won the first of two seeding races Friday, and simultaneously moved to the halfway lead toward Norton National Championship titles.
Sophie Kirkby, Maya Chan, Zachary DiGregorio and Jet Arp can win their respective Norton National Championships Saturday morning on Mount Van Hoevenberg when race action resumes with the final two heats.
The three-races-in-two format offers two-run events each day, with the total of all four heats determining the national champion.
Kirkby, of nearby Ray Brook, N.Y., posted the two fastest legs in Youth A racing, and won handily from the World Cup women’s and doubles start in Lake Placid.
“My runs were great. They were clean,” said Kirkby. “I just came from two months training in Europe and six weeks competing. Just to come here for three days of training and put down some clean runs, I felt really confident about it.”
Her combined time of 1 minute, 29.333 seconds put her over 1.4 seconds clear of silver medalist Joan Kemper, of Chicago. Third place was taken by Isabel Wiley, of Ossining, N.Y., in 1:31.492.
Chan had the two best runs of the Youth B event from the next lower start, entering curve nine. The Chicago luge racer clocked a combined 1:34.241, with Delaney Duncan, of Park City, Utah, second, in a time of 1:36.699, followed by Sarah Jared, from Glendora, Calif., third in 1:37.570.
“My runs were pretty good,” remarked the winner. “We had one day this week where it was too warm to train. So that was a little bit tricky. But they were pretty good runs.”
DiGregorio, recently returned from the Youth A World Cup tour in North America and Europe, captured gold in the Youth A competition from the higher World Cup start location. The Medway, Mass. athlete was fastest at the start and finish of both runs.
“It’s great to be back and come up on top coming from Europe to keep pushing, and then into juniors (junior nationals) next week,” said DiGregorio. “So it’s definitely a confidence boost.”
His combined 1:30.298 cleared Ian Smith, of Carlisle, Mass., by almost half a second. Sean Hollander, of Lake Placid, 10th in the overall Youth A World Cup tour, slid to the bronze medal in 1:30.955.
Burlington, Vermont’s Jett Arp, came from behind to overtake Matt Greiner in the Youth B division, contested from the lower start.
Arp, second after one leg to Greiner, had the best second run and registered an overall time of 1:32.353. He bested Greiner and Ian Thomas, both of Park City, with Greiner the silver medalist in 1:32.868, and Thomas taking bronze in 1:34.228.
“My first run was good,” stated Arp. “The second run was not as good, but it helped me stay up there so it worked.”
The youth races will resume at 9 AM EST Saturday in conditions expected to be in the single digits. Live web streaming will be available at www.usaluge.org.
The post-race award ceremony will air on Facebook Live (LugeUSA) at approximately 11:45 AM EST.