LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – USA Luge opened its final competitive weekend of the season Saturday at Mount Van Hoevenberg with the first of two Norton Junior Seeding Races, leading to the emergence of three Norton Junior National Champions.
Sean Hollander, last week’s Norton Youth National Champion, captured Saturday’s first seeding race on a cloudy, 23-degree Adirondack morning. Hollander will look to repeat the effort Sunday as he also tries to acquire the Junior National Championship. Singles events employ three races in two days as the total of all four heats will determine the national champion.
The Lake Placid luge athlete took the first run lead and then held on for the victory by just 0.07 of a second over Zach DiGregorio, of Medway, Mass.
“The first run was pretty good, built up a good lead,” remarked Hollander, who is in his final races in the youth age group. “The second run, not so much. I cut it a little closer than I would have liked, but still came out on top. I had troubles in (curves) 10, 11, 12 - the labyrinth.”
Hollander starts the weekend with one victory and is halfway toward completing the Norton spring sweep of national titles.
DiGregorio, second in the opening heat, claimed the fastest final run. The winner totaled 1 minute, 44.131 seconds from just below the men’s World Cup start. The runner-up clocked 1:44.205. Sam Eckert, of nearby Wilmington, N.Y., picked up the bronze medal in 1:44.351.
Ashley Farquharson will also sleep on the lead after winning the first seeding race. The Park City, Utah luge racer, starting from the World Cup women’s and doubles handles, will take a lead of nearly three-quarters of a second into Sunday’s conclusion.
Farquharson’s two-heat time of 1:30.047 bettered Grace Weinberg, of Pittsfield, Vt., who registered 1:30.792. Third place went to Chevonne Forgan, of Chelmsford, Mass. in 1:31.378.
Conspicuous by her absence was Brittney Arndt, also of Park City. Arndt, the winner of the spring series the past two years, has been shelved by chronic neck and shoulder issues, according to Junior National Team Coach Fred Zimny. Arndt, who took in the race with the finish area spectators, began the fall campaign with the USA Luge National Team and was in the core group for 2018 Olympic consideration. Her father, Jesse Arndt, won the Norton National Masters Championship earlier in the day in Park City.
Noteworthy among the five doubles teams in action was the appearance of the top youth duo of Dana Kellogg and Duncan Segger, as well as the women’s sled comprised of Maya Chan and Reannyn Weiler.
Kellogg, of Williamsburg, Mass. and Segger, of Lake Placid, raced to an overwhelming victory in 1:28.291 for their two attempts.
“It felt great. Nice, fast ice for today,” said Kellogg.
“It felt awesome,” added Segger. “We had two really solid runs, so that was nice to do.”
The silver medal was taken by Luke Voegeli, of Sun Prairie, Wisc. and teammate Michael O’Gara of La Crescenta, Calif., who were timed in 1:30.016.
Chan, of Chicago, and Weiler, from Whitesboro, N.Y., had an aggregate time of 1:30.799, good enough for the bronze medal.
Unlike the singles competitors who, as in the Olympic format, use all four runs to determine the medalists, doubles are only two-run events in one session. As a result, the second Norton Seeding Race will double as the national championship.
It will all unfold Sunday, when three seeding races will be held and an equal number of Norton Junior National Championships will be awarded.
After the clocks “spring” forward one hour Saturday night, the action will be streamed live beginning at 9 AM ET Sunday on www.usaluge.org.