2017 Norton Seeding Race 1 Results

By Sandy Caligiore | Oct. 13, 2017, 4:58 p.m. (ET)


WHISTLER, British Columbia – Sochi Olympic bronze medalist Erin Hamlin, Tucker West and the doubles team of Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman, all won their respective divisions Friday in the USA Luge Norton Seeding race at Whistler, B.C. that officially kicked off the new season.

All three won in convincing fashion, claiming the fastest times in both heats, and benefitted from some 50 total runs for each member of the team after two and half weeks of training in Lillehammer and Whistler.

The event was the first of three seeding races that will finalize the United States World Cup team. The tour will open the season in a month near Innsbruck, Austria. Other seeding events are slated for Calgary on Oct. 18 and Lake Placid Oct. 28-29.

Hamlin, of Remsen, N.Y., is exempt to the World Cup tour by virtue of her 2017 World Championship silver medal, yet motivation for the 30-year-old veteran is no issue.

“It’s still fun to race,” said Hamlin, fourth overall in last year’s World Cup standings. “We have days and days of double sessions and training and to be able to get all dressed up in race gear and have just a little bit of a race feel is refreshing.

“We woke up this morning to fresh snow and perfect conditions. It was clear and a lot colder than it has been, so it’s what I like to see on race day. It was just fun. That’s why I do this sport.”

Her two heats totaled 1 minute, 18.283 seconds on a women’s and doubles course that is one of the shortest in World Cup racing. However, speed is no issue as the women and doubles sleds today hit 80 miles-per-hour, while the men, starting further up the Whistler complex, cruised at 87 MPH.

Emily Sweeney, of Suffield, Conn., took second place with a combined 1:18.408 as she strives to qualify for her first Olympic team. Now recovered, a season ago Sweeney was slowed in her luge starts by a wrist injury that required surgery in the summer of 2016.

Third place went to Summer Britcher, of Glen Rock, Pa. The 2014 Olympian, bigger and stronger entering the new season, totaled 1:18.420 as she channels the form that won her three World Cup events in 2015-2016. Britcher was hampered by a sore left shoulder last year, but has declared that completely healed.

Raychel Germaine, of Roswell, Ga., collected fourth place in 1:18.856, followed by U.S. Junior National Team member Brittney Arndt, of Park City, Utah, in 1:19.104.

Mortensen and Terdiman comprised USA Luge’s top-ranked World Cup sled in 2016-2017 when they finished in third place. They are entering just their fourth year together after racing doubles in Sochi with different teammates. Their two trips down the track used for the Vancouver Winter Olympics totaled 1:17.716.

“I was in race mode when we were in Norway, so I consider this the second time I’ve been in race mode,” remarked Mortensen, of Huntington Station, N.Y. “Everything was really good. It’s nice to get back into the routine of racing and feeling what it means to be racing and get your sled ready. It’s good training for the season.”

“These were definitely two of our most solid runs we’ve had here,” added Terdiman, of Berwick, Pa. “After the first run we were talking about how we were hitting pressures even better than we had in training, and we were able to duplicate that in the second run which is great. We were incredibly consistent, which I really like to see because it’s something I feel is very important to be successful. I’m just very happy with today’s outcome.”

The winners finished nearly 0.7 of a second ahead of Jake Hyrns, of Muskegon, Mich. and Anthony Espinoza, of Park City. Third place went to Justin Krewson, of Eastport, N.Y. and Andrew Sherk, of Fort Washington, Pa. They were off the pace as a result of Sherk’s sore neck which eliminated the team’s start capabilities.

West continues to enjoy good karma on the 2010 Olympic course; the Ridgefield, Conn. racer clinched his Sochi Olympic berth here and won the World Cup race last season. His two-run time of 1:41.086 gave him a comfortable victory.

“I do really like this track,” stated West. “It meshes with my sliding style. It favors people with faster starts due to the flatness up top, and then down low, you can really just let the sled run and do its thing, which is kind of what I like to do. All in all, it was great today.

“We’ve tested some really exciting equipment that we got from our engineers at both Dow and Norton Saint-Gobain. The stuff is looking really great. The team is looking really strong. For myself, my starts are faster than ever, sliding is coming along as well, so hopefully when World Cup comes around all the pieces of the puzzle will fall together.”

West cleared second place Chris Mazdzer by four-tenths of a second. The two-time Olympian from Saranac Lake, N.Y. was followed by John Fennell, of Calgary, who posted 1:41.882. Fennell, a dual citizen, joined the U.S. program 18 months ago. He competed in Sochi for Canada.

Taylor Morris, of South Jordan, Utah took fourth, nearly a second from West. Jonny Gustafson, of Massena, N.Y., wound up fifth, over a second behind the winner.

USA Luge’s third stop on the pre-season training swing will send the squad to Calgary for the second Norton Seeding race, to be held on the 1988 Olympic track, on Oct. 18 or 19 at 1:30 PM ET, weather dependent. A decision will be made regarding the race date early next week.

The Calgary layout is set to undergo a partial facelift next spring. The improvements are viewed as an investment in the city’s efforts to potentially bid on the 2026 or 2030 Olympic Games.

The pre-Olympic World Cup campaign begins in mid-November with five races prior to the holiday break.

The November and December World Cup squad will consist of five men, four women and three doubles teams, as per the International Luge Federation quotas.

Those five World Cup events, culminating with the Lake Placid races on Dec. 15-16, will determine the 10 athletes to be nominated to the U.S. Olympic Committee for the Games in Pyeongchang.

The 10 competitors will be officially unveiled in a gala USA Luge celebration at the Conference Center at Lake Placid on the night of Dec. 16.

Unofficial Results