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Three silver medals, one bronze for USA Luge Youth A & Junior racers in wet Winterberg

By Sandy Caligiore | Feb. 03, 2020, 11:59 a.m. (ET)

Above: Sam Day and Sam Eckert (upper left). Photo: Paul Day


WINTERBERG, Germany – Winter and international luge racing have had nothing in common recently as the World Cup tour and the Junior World Cup circuit have been hit with warm, rainy weather in the resort destination ironically known as Winterberg.


Despite the conditions, which USA Luge Head Coach Robert Fegg described as “raining insanely”, his athletes tallied three Youth A World Cup silver medals Saturday and a bronze medal Sunday. The three-day event concluded the youth and junior seasons in Winterberg, with a pair of junior World Cups wrapped around a Youth A World Cup. 


Matt Greiner, of Park City, Utah, sat in fourth place at the intermission of his singles race in Youth A, but staged a second heat rally and jumped up to second place. Also, the Youth A doubles teams of Maya Chan, of Chicago, and Reannyn Weiler, of Whitesboro, N.Y., took the runner-up spot as did Sam Day, of Wantagh, N.Y., and Sam Eckert, of Wilmington, N.Y. in Youth A men. All five were members of the recent U.S. Youth Olympic Games (YOG) team. The doubles races were curtailed to just one heat due to weather.


Greiner, ninth at the YOG in St. Moritz, had a two-heat total time of 1 minute, 29.611 seconds and closed to within 0.16 of winner Nico Baum, of Germany. Greiner ended the season in third place with 353 points, just two points from first place which was shared by Gints Berzins of Latvia and Timon Grancagnolo of Germany. Hunter Harris, of East Fairfield, Vt., tied for 33rd on the season, while Eckert was 40th and Day 45th. All three raced in a partial season.


Chan and Weiler, fourth at the YOG, clocked a time of 27.237 as they trailed Germans Jessica Degenhardt and Vanessa Schneider by merely 0.08 of a second. The Americans took fifth overall on the season with 286 points. Degenhardt and Schneider won the division with five victories in six races.


Day and Eckert found speed at the bottom of the Winterberg track to grab their silver medal. Their time of 26.988 was 0.09 off the pace of Poland’s Kacper Imiolek and Lukasz Mackala. Day and Eckert finished eighth at the YOG and seventh in the Youth A World Cup rankings.


USA Luge had no entries in the Youth A women’s competition last weekend. Over the course of the Youth A World Cup season, McKenna Mazlo, of Souderton, Pa. another YOG team member, was 37th and Sophia Gordon, of Sussex, Wis., finished tied for 39th. They did not participate in all races.                                                          


Keaton Jens, of St. Charles, Ill., was 11th and 16th in the season-ending Junior World Cup men’s events. Jens finished in 13th in the overall Junior World Cup standings with 155 points. Ian Smith, of Carlisle, Mass., was 14th in the first race, but did finish the season finale. He wound up 11th with 166 points. They were the lone entries as Zack DiGregorio was called up to the World Cup team and Sean Hollander only raced in the doubles competition where he finished fourth and third with Michael O’Gara on the weekend. Their bronze medal effort came in a time of 47.748, in a run where they posted the fifth best start time and accelerated down to the finish. The steady results enabled Hollander, of Lake Placid, and O’Gara, of La Crescenta, Calif., to complete the season in fourth place with 268 Junior World Cup points. Max Ewald and Jakob Jannusch, of Germany, captured the final four races of the season en route to the tour title.


Hollander did compete in the final singles race, where he landed in eighth place, ending his season ranked 10th with 170 points. Despite missing the final two events, DiGregorio was eighth overall with 187 points.


Dana Kellogg and Duncan Segger have also spent the past two weeks getting World Cup experience and ended the junior season in sixth place. Kellogg, of Chesterfield, Mass., and Segger, of Lake Placid, won the season-opening junior race in Koenigssee.


The women’s junior race saw Sophie Kirkby, of Ray Brook, N.Y. finish 15th and 12th, bringing her up to ninth place overall with 150 points. Mazlo made her junior debut over the weekend with 28th and 26th place results.


Chevonne Forgan, of Chelmsford, Mass., has also missed the final two junior races as she, too, was sent to the World Cup team last week. She raced in the Nations Cup and then foreran on Sunday in Oberhof.


The USA entry raced into fifth place in each of the last two junior team competitions.


DiGregorio, Forgan, and Kellogg/Segger will rejoin their teammates for the Junior World Championships in Oberhof Feb. 21-22.





Above: Youngsters participating in the Empire State Winter Games


LAKE PLACID – Seven luge races were held Saturday in Lake Placid under the banner of the 40th Empire State Winter Games (ESWG). The event dates back to 1981 – the year after the Lake Placid Winter Olympics - and made New York the first state in the nation to conduct Olympic-style winter competitions with its residents in mind.


In comfortable winter weather in Lake Placid, divisions were held from Youth to Masters, totaling 42 sleds.


Grayson Laugher, of Tenafly, N.J., won the Youth Open men’s race, as he negotiated the Mount Van Hoevenberg track with a two-run total time of 1 minute, 33.204 seconds. Laugher cruised to the gold medal over Nevan Kalbfleisch, of Fairfax, Vt., followed by Jonathan Howard, from Syracuse. Laugher had the best times of both heats.


Kalbfleisch was also eligible in Youth B men and captured the division over Howard using the same time from the open event. Kalbfleisch clocked 1:37.551, followed by Howard’s 1:38.336. The bronze medal was taken by Boden Haber, of Glen Ellyn, Ill. in 1:38.746.


In Youth A men, the winner was David D’Amico, from Downers Grove, Ill., in a time of 1:34.563. D’Amico turned back Eli Iacovoni, of Plymouth, Mich. and Tomas Ziemiecki, of Mason, N.H., who took silver and bronze, respectively.


The Youth C men’s race went to Nathan Bivins, a Castleton, N.Y. athlete, who registered a combined time of 1:35.015. Chase Somers, of Saginaw, Mich., scored the Empire State Winter Games silver medal, with Gabriel Desautels, of Georgia, Vt., winning the bronze medal.


Caroline Kogut, from Glenville, N.Y., raced away with the Youth A women’s gold medal, recording two heats in 1:31.850. Kogut finished 0.8 of a second in front of Emma Taney, of Berwick, Pa. The bronze medal went to Goldie Miller, from Englewood, Ohio.


The Youth B women’s medals were issued to Elizabeth Kleinheinz, of Santa Clara, Calif., Sadie Martin, from Vermontville, N.Y., and Talia Tonn, of Cecil, Wis. in that order. Kleinheinz’s gold medal time was 1:34.505.


Former USA Luge Vice President Jim Murphy, of Amherst, N.H. was the Masters division winner in 1:31.521. Murphy edged Todd Pfalzgraf, of Waxhaw, N.C. by 0.18 of a second, with the bronze medal going to first run leader Matt Gannon of Lake Placid. Elizabeth Clark, also from Amherst, N.H., joined the men and finished fourth.


The event concluded with USA Luge CEO Jim Leahy issuing the ESWG medals.


For complete ESWG results, please log on to:https://www.empirestatewintergames.com/f/files/2020%20Luge.pdf





The USA Luge Challenge is set to visit Titletown, adjacent to Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., Feb. 15-16. The final event of the winter, the Casella USA Luge Challenge, will occur at Titus Mountain in Malone, N.Y. on Saturday, March 14. These events are free and open to luge enthusiasts of all ages. Youngsters, in particular, are encouraged to give it a try.


USA Luge will have its official unveiling of the new indoor refrigerated training center in Lake Placid on Saturday, April 4, in conjunction with the annual Masters race.