LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – USA Luge athletes from the Lake Placid region, who traveled as part of the Junior National Team this winter, were among those posting victories Saturday at Mount Van Hoevenberg as the Norton Youth Nationals and Seeding Races got underway in comfortable 30 degree conditions.
Over 50 young racers tackled the difficult Olympic Sports Complex track. The weekend series will help determine the composition of next year’s teams.
Two local athletes, Sean Hollander, of Lake Placid, and Sophie Kirkby, of nearby Ray Brook, raced to gold medals in the first of two seeding events. The second such competition will be held Sunday, with the total of both days heats deciding the 2018 Norton Youth National Champions.
“It’s great to have friends and family here to cheer us on,” said Hollander. “The track was pretty good. It’s nice and cold, and the runs were alright.”
Hollander led from the start, posting the two fastest runs of the Youth A men’s race from start three (World Cup start for women, doubles and team relay). His combined time of 1 minute, 30.189 seconds turned back Keaton Jens by 0.4 of a second. Jens, from St. Charles, Ill., recorded 1:30.592 for the silver medal, with Sam Day, of Wantagh, N.Y., taking bronze in 1:30.835.
Kirkby followed the same script, as she also registered the two quickest times of the Youth A women’s race.
“The track was great today, and we had great sliding from all the athletes,” remarked Kirkby. “It was a really good race.”
Kirkby totaled 1:29.686, finishing 0.367 of a second ahead of Chevonne Forgan, of Chelmsford, Mass. Forgan’s silver medal time was 1:30.05. In the final run, she improved from third place. Forgan was followed by Delaney Duncan, of Park City, Utah, who took the bronze medal in 1:30.567.
Sophia Gordon, of Sussex, Wisc., was triumphant in the Youth B women’s seeding race with a pair of heats totaling 1:31.231. The event saw these youth athletes pull off from the handles on the lower start four.
“My runs were pretty good today. I had a personal best,” stated Gordon. “It was super fun. I was happy with it.”
Gordon topped Caitlyn Petteys, of York, Pa. The runner-up recorded a combined 1:33.063, with Jessa Muller, of New London, Wisc., third in 1:36.573.
Roan Thomas was the Youth B men’s victor. “I thought the ice was great. It was a fun race,” offered the gold medalist. Fun but maybe a bit nerve-wracking.
Thomas, also of Park City, took the lead after one leg, then held off the charge of Russell Foster. The luge racer from Mamaroneck, N.Y. had the best time in the final run to improve from third to second. In a similar fashion, William Iverson, of Park City, jumped from fourth to third place at day’s end.
When the scramble cleared, Thomas’s two trips resulted in a winning time of 1:32.880. Foster’s second place time was 1:33.112, followed by Iverson in 1:33.185.
In addition to the tight racing in such a young field, the other noteworthy aspect of the race was the number of family members who traveled impressive distances to watch their children compete. A large contingent was on hand to cheer their kids alongside the outrun, as well as providing an audience for the post-race award ceremonies below the venue’s Lamy Lodge.
The second Norton Youth Seeding Race and the crowning of the national champions will take place Sunday, with race time at 8:30 AM ET. Live streaming will be available on www.usaluge.org.