2017 Norton Spring Seeding Races conclude in Lake Placid

By Sandy Caligiore | March 19, 2017, 1:29 p.m. (ET)


Above left to right: Norton Seeding Race #2 winners Andrew Sherk, Justin Krewson, Tucker West and Summer Britcher

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – A day after setting a Lake Placid track record, Sochi Olympian Summer Britcher completed a weekend sweep Sunday of the Norton spring seeding races, while the young team of Justin Krewson and Andrew Sherk achieved the same in doubles.

Men’s track record holder Tucker West, also a 2014 Olympian, won the second race, after two-time Olympian Chris Mazdzer claimed the Saturday event.

The weekend marked the official opening of the 2018 Olympic team selection period.

Britcher, who turns 23 this week, held the lead from start to finish under azure blue skies and rising temperatures at the Olympic Sports Complex. The Glen Rock, Pa. athlete had a pair of runs that totaled 1 minute, 28.282 seconds.

“I think mentally, it (winning) was very important for me,” said Britcher, who took the maximum 200 seeding points on the weekend. “Coming out of the previous season, a really good season, this year didn’t feel that great to me. I had some okay results, some average results, but I never had a really good feeling on the sled. I felt like I had that this week, so better late than never, and I hope I can carry that on to next year.”

Emily Sweeney, of Suffield, Conn., was second once again and grabbed 170 points. A sore wrist and resulting surgery, dating back to late last summer, has prevented the 2013 Junior World Champion, normally a strong starter, from paddling all-out down the ramp.

Sweeney’s 1:29.034 put her ahead of Raychel Germaine, of Roswell, Ga. Germaine, just completing her second World Cup season, rallied from fifth place with the second best final heat.

Her time of 1:29.212 put her 0.08 of a second ahead of Brittney Arndt. The Park City, Utah athlete, who crashed late in Saturday’s final leg when she was headed to a top three finish, took fourth. Norton Junior National Champion, Ashley Farquharson, also of Park City, placed fifth.

Germaine had 140 points, followed by Farquharson with 115. Youth A National Champion Sophie Kirkby, of Ray Brook, with fifth and sixth place efforts these past two days, took 105 points.

Erin, Hamlin, Sochi Olympic bronze medalist and four-time World Championship medal winner, was exempt from the weekend series. By virtue of her 2017 World Championships, where she won a team-record three medals, the Remsen, N.Y. athlete has already reserved her spot on the World Cup team for November and December. Hamlin was a forerunner prior to both women’s races, as she spent her time in Lake Placid this week testing equipment.

In a field trimmed to two doubles sleds, Krewson, of Eastport, N.Y., and Sherk, of Fort Washington, Pa., won by approximately 0.5 of a second. Their two heats combined for a total of 1:28.554. They, too, piled up the maximum 200 seeding points after also winning 24 hours earlier.

“The two runs today were better than yesterday’s,” commented Krewson, the front driver, who is also a Lake Placid volunteer firefighter. “It’s tough not having a full field. We kind of took it like training and did what we know how to do.”

“Obviously, we need to build up strength, because we lost a lot of strength while traveling,” added the back driver Sherk. “Really build up our start, because our start fell off a little, too. We want to have a clean mindset and have fun.”

Runners-up Jake Hyrns, of Muskegon, Mich., and Anthony Espinoza, of Park City, had what Espinoza termed “a strap mishap”, which affected the team while pulling from the start handles.

The duo that finished the World Cup campaign with a career-best sixth place in Altenberg, Germany, clocked 1:29.053. They had 170 points.

Matt Mortensen, of Huntington Station, N.Y., and Jayson Terdiman, of Berwick, Pa., third-ranked in the recently concluded World Cup season, were forced to withdraw Saturday after one heat as they damaged a sled runner.

Above: Tucker West enters curve 14 at Lake Placid's Olympic Sports Complex luge track

After a start in Saturday’s first leg that put him well off the pace, West, of Ridgefield, Conn., rebounded with a second day victory over Mazdzer.

“Lake Placid’s my home track so I know how to make it down, so I didn’t really change anything mentally,” stated the two-time World Cup winner this season. “I know how to be effective here. I know how to drive my lines, so I came into it with the ordinary race mentality.

“I’ve been testing sleds and steels all week, so I’ve been kind of bouncing around. I came into it with kind of an unknown this weekend, which makes racing fun. I’m glad it panned out the way it did.” 

West registered a total of 1:42.700, and overcame Mazdzer’s opening heat advantage. The Saranac Lake, N.Y. competitor posted the silver medal time of 1:42.850, yet his two-race total of 185 seeding points topped the field. West had 160.

Taylor Morris, of South Jordan, Utah, was third in 1:42.992, and third in total points with 155.

Riley Stohr, of Whitehall, Mich., was third and fourth on the weekend, respectively, good enough for 130 points. Jonny Gustafson, of Massena, N.Y., slid to fourth and fifth places during the two events, and piled up 110 points. John Fennell, of Calgary, was sixth in each race and sixth in the series with 100 points.

Later this spring, USA Luge will announce the summer training team that will include up to eight men, six women and all three doubles teams. In step one of the 2018 Olympic selection process, athletes must be named to this off-season group.

The second stage of Olympic selection will play out in the fall Norton seeding competitions, which will finalize the World Cup unit for the first five events of the season. Selection to the World Cup team is also mandatory for Olympic team consideration.

The 10-member Pyeongchang squad – with three men, three women and two doubles teams - is tentatively set to be nominated on December 16 in Lake Placid, based on the results of the five November and December World Cups.