Sweeney 7th, West 8th, Mazdzer 13th at Whistler

By Sandy Caligiore | Dec. 13, 2019, 10:54 p.m. (ET)

WHISTLER, B.C. – World Championship bronze medalist Emily Sweeney led the USA Luge effort Friday afternoon as the Viessmann World Cup tour resumed on the 2010 Olympic course. The 2018 Olympian raced into seventh place on a comfortable afternoon along the flank of the Whistler-Blackcomb resort. Sweeney was backed by Ashley Farquharson and Brittney Arndt, 18th and 19th, respectively, on the day, while Summer Britcher was an uncharacteristic 28th.

Britcher, a two-time Olympian, struggled as she entered the start curve, losing substantial time in the opening leg. She rallied with the fifth fastest second heat, but finished down the list. Sweeney was the lone American to advance to Saturday’s sprint races that are reserved for the top 15 of each discipline.

The U.S. men were paced by 2014 and 2018 Olympian Tucker West in eighth place, followed by 2018 Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer, 13th. Jonny Gustafson, who also experienced problems getting his race underway, was 23rd. West won gold here in 2016 in a race curtailed to one heat due to a blizzard that delayed the arrival of all sleds. It’s one of West’s three career World Cup victories.

 

WOMEN

Russia’s Tatyana Ivanova won for the second time in four World Cup starts. She had the two fastest runs of the day, totaling 1 minute, 17.378 seconds on the short Whistler layout. German Anna Berreiter, a Junior World Cup athlete last season, collected the silver medal after advancing into the field in Thursday’s Nations Cup. Berreiter was 0.19 from Ivanova, with another Russian, Victoriia Demchenko taking bronze in 1:17.599. The daughter of coach Albert Demchenko rallied from eighth place after one heat to slide away with her second podium result of the year. World Cup leader Julia Taubitz, also of Germany, was fourth, just 0.01 from Demchenko. Ivanova is second overall, with three Americans occupying the top 10.

Britcher and Sweeney are ranked third and fifth, respectively. The former, from Glen Rock, Pa., has been third the past two years, while Sweeney strives to complete a full season following injury in the Pyeongchang Winter Games. The Lake Placid racer recorded two runs that were seventh and eighth best on the afternoon, putting her 0.3 of a second from Ivanova.

Farquharson, a World Cup rookie from Park City, is ninth on the season. Fellow Parkite, Brittney Arndt, is 24th as the result of not qualifying in Lake Placid and missing point opportunities in two events. In Friday’s race, both were 0.7 from Ivanova.

MEN

Ivanova’s teammate, Roman Repilov, exacted his revenge after missing last year’s Whistler competition. The two-time Junior World Champion was delayed at customs and not cleared for arrival until race day. He participated as a spectator. The rest of the field was not so fortunate Friday evening, as the Russian won his second straight race dating back to Lake Placid and currently holds the overall World Cup lead. He has medaled in three of the four World Cups to date.

Repilov’s two trips down the Whistler track totaled 1:39.713, including the quickest final run. Felix Loch, of Germany, a triple Olympic gold medalist, took second when teammate and first heat leader Johannes Ludwig fell off the pace. Loch wound up 0.14 from Repilov, followed by Italian Dominik Fischnaller, in 1:39.884. Ludwig, 2018 Olympic gold and bronze medal winner, is off to a slower than expected start. His fourth-place time was 1:39.920 after holding the advantage in the opening heat.

West, of Ridgefield, Conn., scooped up silver medals in both Lake Placid events two weeks ago after a nearly two-year hiatus from the podium. West is fourth in the season-long chase. He’ll be joined in the sprint race Saturday by Mazdzer. The Saranac Lake, N.Y. luge veteran, however, will start his day in the doubles event with teammate Jayson Terdiman.

Mazdzer’s cumulative time was 1:40.298. Gustafson, of Massena, N.Y., was 23rd, but improved his second run by 13 places. Gustafson is ranked 15th in the World Cup.

SCHEDULE AND COVERAGE

Of note Saturday: for the first time in a World Cup doubles event, an all-female team is entered with the men. Canadians Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corliss qualified in Thursday’s Nations Cup for the right to compete in Saturday’s World Cup.

Saturday action will present doubles at 3:50 PM ET, followed by sprint races in all three disciplines. OlympicChannel.com will live stream all races. The doubles second heat will also be covered on the Olympic Channel at 11:30 PM ET Saturday. NBC Sports Network will air additional coverage at 10 PM ET on Sunday.

RESULTS AND STANDINGS