LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – While the USA Luge National Team was busy in Koenigssee over the weekend ending the season with its 11th World Cup medal, a field of morethan 60 youth athletes raced down Mount Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid as they attempted to advance through the system and one day, hopefully, be in the position ofwinning World Cup and Olympic medals themselves. The events included all seven members of the recent 2020 United States Youth Olympic Games (YOG) team in St.Moritz.
Youth men, women and doubles entertained family, friends, onlookers and online viewers Saturday and Sunday as they entered important events that will helpdetermine their team status for next season. In singles, there were two separate seeding races, but the combination of the two events (four heats) would crown theNorton USA Luge Youth National Champion. There was one doubles seeding event which also doubled as the national championship race.
YOUTH A (15-18 years of age)
Sam Eckert, of Wilmington, N.Y., a member of the YOG team, captured the 2020 Norton crown. He had a winning four-heat time of 3 minutes, 01.241 seconds anddefeated Hunter Harris by 0.52 of a second. Harris, from East Fairfield, Vt., joined Eckert on the YOG team. Marcus Mueller, of Brookfield, Wis., took the bronze medalin 3:02.513.
Another YOG athlete, Matt Greiner of Park City, Utah, appeared headed to a sweep of the two seeding races and the national championship. Greiner was first or secondin three of the four heats, but the third run dropped him down the leaderboard as he had troubles midway through the third leg (first run Sunday) on the Olympic SportsComplex course.
With Eckert and Harris unable to earn seeding points as they are aging out of the youth division, Mueller led the group with 185 points. Ansel Haugsjaa, fromFramingham, Mass., was second with 155, while Greiner collected 136.
McKenna Mazlo, of Souderton, Pa., also on the YOG team, had four consistent heats to win the Norton championship. Her total time was 3:01.036, besting ElanaMorrison, of Twin Lake, Mich. by less than 0.3 of a second. Jessa Muller, of New London, Wis., raced to the bronze medal, 0.9 behind Mazlo.
The top two also could not earn seeding points. They went to Caroline Kogut, of Glenville, N.Y., fourth in the national race, and Muller in a tie at 170 points. Kogut wonthe tie-breaker with a higher single seeding race.
YOUTH B (13-14 years of age)
Joey Heuser, of Park City, Utah, cruised to the Youth B Norton title with four runs totaling 3:11.145. All four of his heats were timed in the top three. The silver medalwent to Orson Colby, of Riverton, Utah who clocked 3:13.458, with Josh Berzowki, of Pulaski, Wis. taking the bronze medal in 3:14.625.
With Heuser removed from seeding point consideration due to age, Berzowski finished first with 170. Boden Haber, of Glen Ellyn, Ill., fifth in the national race, tooksecond place points with 155. Nevan Kalbfleisch, of Fairfax, Vt. was third in points with 145. Kalbfleisch placed sixth in the four-heat race.
Elizabeth Kleinheinz left no doubt who was the top racer over the four runs and two days of action. The resident of Santa Clara, Calif. had the best times of eachindividual heat in recording the gold medal time of 3:08.447. The silver medal went to Talia Tonn, of Ceal, Wis. in 3:11.716. The bronze medal was taken by CaylinWeaver, of Indianapolis in 3:12.148.
Kleinheinz grabbed the maximum 200 seeding points as Tonn and Weaver tied for second at 145. Weaver was awarded second place in another tie-breaker as she hadthe single fastest heat time.
YOUTH DOUBLES (13-18 years of age)
In a one-day only event, Maya Chan and Reannyn Weiler, fourth at the YOG, won the seeding race that doubled as the Norton National Championship competition.Chan, of Chicago, and Weiler, of Whitesboro, N.Y., took the measure of two other doubles teams. The winners posted a two-heat time of 1:29.591 as they had thefastest sled of both runs. Runners-up were Mueller and Haugsjaa in 1:30.755. The third-place team was Aidan Mueller, of West Islip, N.Y. with Frank Ike, of Lititz, Pa. in1:30.800.
Mueller and Haugsjaa won the points battle as the Chan/Weiler duo could not score seeding points.
USA LUGE SIDETRACKS
Of the 11 World Cup medals collected by USA Luge, nine were silver and two bronze. Britcher had a hand in six of them; West had four silver medals; Emily Sweeneypicked up two silvers and a bronze in another partial season; Mazdzer/Terdiman anchored both team relay silver medals.
The Norton USA Luge Junior National Championships move onto Mount Van Hoevenberg March 7-8. Training is already underway.
The Casella Waste Solutions USA Luge Challenge takes place Saturday, March 14, at Titus Mountain in Malone, N.Y. It’s free to all and lift tickets are not required.
The official unveiling of the new USA Luge start facility and offices will occur on April 4 after the Masters championship.
The 2020-2021 World Cup season will begin the final weekend of November in Igls, Austria, includes a stop in Lake Placid Jan. 23-24 and culminates in Pyeongchangin late February. The World Championships will be held in February 2021 at Whistler, B.C.