Awesome conditions and weather for the first day of training in Lake Placid

By Sandy Caligiore | Oct. 17, 2019, 9:32 a.m. (ET)

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – At exactly 10 AM Tuesday morning, Jonny Gustafson grabbed the handles at Start 3, pulled and then paddled down the ramp on his way to curve four, thus officially beginning the sliding season in Lake Placid.

The first runs down the track on Mount Van Hoevenberg occurred on a postcard autumn morning, as temps touched the 30 degree mark under a blue sky with some puffy clouds. Ice conditions, courtesy of track chief John Napier and crew, were equal to the weather.

“It was so nice. It’s incredible,” said Gustafson, of Massena, N.Y. “We were going super-fast. It wasn’t terribly bumpy or anything. It was really good for the first day.”

Seven members of the USA Luge National Team took four to five runs, all singles, including 2018 Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer, who will also race doubles with Jayson Terdiman.

“Do not let the fall leaves fool you,” added Mazdzer, a 2010, 2014 and 2018 Olympian who splits his time between Salt Lake City and nearby Saranac Lake, N.Y. “The track is awesome. In fact, I was a little nervous because typically you show up this time of year, the track is not in World Cup shape. It’s not very fast. It’s warm. It’s frosty. But today was different. It was really fast. People were going mid-44s (seconds), low 44s, less than a second off the track record. So it’s a pretty sweet way to start the sliding year here.”

“We showed up at the top of the track today. The ice looked beautiful, just like glass,” remarked two-time Olympian Summer Britcher, of Glen Rock, Pa., who has finished third in the overall World Cup rankings the past two years. “The transitions are built really nice right now, and I think it was a great first day of training.”

The Viessmann World Cup season is about six weeks away, with the traditional start in Innsbruck/Igls, Austria Nov. 23-24, followed by the Lake Placid stop Nov. 30-Dec. 1.

If 2018 Olympic team member Emily Sweeney has her way, not only will she race in these two World Cups, but the other nine events, too, and the 2020 World Championships in Sochi. That would be a far cry from last season when she was finding her way back from the Olympic crash in Pyeongchang. Nevertheless, Sweeney, of Suffield, Conn., reached her peak at the 2019 World Championships and scored a bronze medal despite racing part-time during the season.

“I still have to see how my body works out with that (a full schedule),” stated Sweeney. “It’s been a year and a half since the crash. I still feel it. Time is passing but it’s crazy how your body holds on to things, so I’m still learning as I go.”

The team is slated to hit the ice daily at the Olympic Sports Complex, through Friday. The fall training camp resumes at Whistler, B.C. the week of Oct. 21, before returning to Lake Placid the week of Oct. 28. The Norton National Championships are back here on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 1-2.