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USA Luge returns to World Cup racing this weekend in Germany

By Sandy Caligiore | Dec. 31, 2020, 6:34 p.m. (ET)

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – USA Luge has returned to international racing this week as the Eberspacher World Cup tour resumes in Koenigssee, Germany for the fifth of nine events. The United States team, after training in Lake Placid during November and December, arrived Sunday, Dec. 28. The contingent underwent three COVID tests in three days to gain clearance.

The American group has brought three men, four women and one doubles team to Koenigssee. All will enter the Nations Cup qualifying races on Friday (Jan. 1), looking to compete in their respective World Cup fields on Saturday and Sunday.

The U.S. will be led by Pyeongchang Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer of Salt Lake City, racing singles and doubles with teammate and two-time Olympian Jayson Terdiman of Berwick, Pa. Tucker West, from Ridgefield, Conn., also twice an Olympic team member, has three World Cup individual titles. Summer Britcher of Glen Rock, Pa., a 2014 and 2018 Olympian with five World Cup victories in her career, heads the U.S. women’s lineup. This foursome won the 2020 World Championship bronze medal in the team relay in Sochi.

Emily Sweeney, of Lake Placid, a Pyeongchang Olympian and 2019 World Championship bronze medal winner, gives the women a solid 1-2 punch. She captured the recent fall series in Lake Placid. Sweeney is a member of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) who is choosing to compete this weekend while on earned leave. At this time, she is not on orders for WCAP which is not permitting its athletes to travel abroad. USA Luge allowed her to enter the team’s health and safety bubble while on leave.

The singles entries over the next six weeks to the conclusion of the season will also include Jonny Gustafson of Massena, N.Y. as well as Brittney Arndt and Ashley Farquharson, both of Park City, Utah.

USA Luge’s second doubles sled of Dana Kellogg and Duncan Segger could not travel abroad. Kellogg, of Chesterfield, Mass., is also a member of WCAP and was not permitted to travel. His absence impacts back driver, Duncan Segger of Lake Placid. As a result, the duo will train in the U.S. for the remainder of the year.

The iconic Koenigssee track, adjacent to King’s Lake, offers some of the most spectacular aesthetic scenes, and challenges every slider from start to finish. Beginning with the difficult S turns at the top, to the Bend Straightaway, the 360-degree Kriesel (Circle) turn and ensuing labyrinth near the conclusion, the course requires luge athletes to focus on every training run. The time spent there this week is doubly important as the luge community will return Jan. 29-31 for the World Championships that were displaced from Whistler, B.C.

Upon arrival, all teams and traveling support members of the World Cup family were COVID tested, organized by the International Luge Federation. One of the most popular and spectator-friendly events on the tour will have no fans inside the venue, keeping in step with the first half of the season.

Saturday’s World Cup schedule begins at 4:30 AM ET with doubles and men’s singles, followed on Sunday with women’s singles and the team relay starting at 3:20 AM ET. Live streaming on the weekend can be found on OlympicChannel.com.

Ensuing races in January will take place in Sigulda, Oberhof which replaced Lake Placid, and Igls. Oberhof and Igls also hosted World Cup action earlier in the season. After World Championships, the ninth and final World Cup is set for St. Moritz in early February. This replaces the canceled trip to Beijing for international training week and World Cup pre-Olympic test events. To date, very few athletes have slid on the 2022 Olympic course due to the scheduling fiasco caused by the coronavirus.