LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – On a cold, bluebird morning in Lake Placid, the two-day Norton USA Luge Junior National Championships got underway with the first of two seeding races. The singles events combine all four heats of the weekend to determine the national champions, while the 2020 doubles national crown will be a two-heat race on Sunday.
Matt Greiner, of Park City, Utah, a member of the 2020 United States Youth Olympic Games (YOG) team in St. Moritz, blistered the second run with the fastest heat to overtake midway leader Ian Smith for the first seeding race victory and the 100 points associated with it. Greiner is also the frontrunner in the national championship chase after two of four legs. He was in the same situation last weekend in the youth nationals, winning the opening seeding race, before a rough third heat took him out of the running for the gold medal.
“To have the two first days of nationals be wins is definitely good,” said Greiner. “I’m very happy with it. I’m a little surprised by today’s results and I’m just hoping to not do what I did last weekend tomorrow.”
Greiner had a combined time of 1 minute, 43.245 seconds, and pushed Zack DiGregorio and Smith to second and third places, respectively. DiGregorio, of Medway, Mass., brought himself from third to second place in 1:43.314. Smith, of Carlisle, Mass., led the opening run by over 0.2 of a second, but after improving his start, encountered some small problems in the second heat, dropping him to third place in 1:43.319. Second place was worth 85 seeding points, while third place collected 70.
Sophie Kirkby, from nearby Ray Brook, N.Y., opened a 0.4 of a second advantage over Chevonne Forgan, with Elana Morrison third as the women’s championship reached its mid-point. Kirkby had the fastest times of each heat and recorded 1:30.344. She grabbed the 100 seeding points awarded to the race winner.
“There were a few rough edges here and there, but overall I think I put down a good race, but it’s not over yet,” remarked the leader.
Forgan, of Chelmsford, Mass., who got several tastes of the World Cup in the second half of the season, opened with excellent starts in each attempt. She posted the best times through the start curve, but bled fractions down the Olympic Sports Complex course. Forgan settled for a combined 1:30.754. Morrison, of Muskegon, Mich., was third in 1:31.646.
Dana Kellogg and Duncan Segger, after getting three World Cup starts and finishing eighth in the Junior World Championships, returned home this week for the Norton competitions and promptly won Saturday’s seeding race.
“Ice conditions were really hard, really nice and fast and made for a good race,” commented Kellogg. “But also, there are opportunities for more mistakes.”
Kellogg, of Chesterfield, Mass. and Segger of Lake Placid, took a substantial lead in the first run ahead of the YOG team of Maya Chan and Reannyn Weiler. Sean Hollander and Michael O’Gara were third. The final run saw an exchange of second and third places, while the Kellogg/Segger duo coasted in 1:29.642.
“We had a really good first run, the best run of the week,” added Segger. “There were a few mistakes in the second run, but luckily we were able to pull through and come away with a win.”
Hollander, of Lake Placid, and O’Gara, of La Crescenta, Calif., sixth at the junior worlds, had the quickest second leg and were runners-up in 1:32.319. Chan, of Chicago, and Weiler of Whitesboro, N.Y., fourth at the YOG, finished third in 1:34.114. The team of Sam Day, of Wantagh, N.Y. and Sam Eckert of Wilmington, N.Y., eighth at the YOG in St. Moritz in January, did not enter as Day is nursing a foot injury.
USA LUGE SIDETRACKS
Sunday’s start time is 9 AM ET, with action on Facebook Live.
2018 Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer underwent shoulder surgery on Wednesday at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake, N.Y. Team physician and orthopedic specialist Dr. Eugene Byrne, from Lake Placid Sports Medicine, performed the procedure. Mazdzer will also have elbow surgery later in the spring.
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, with the Masters championship on April 5.
Homologation of the 2022 Olympic track in Beijing will take place during the final week of October 2020. Summer Britcher will participate for USA Luge.
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 Pyeongchang in late February. The World Championships will be held in February 2021 at Whistler, B.C.
USA Luge Fantasy Camps in Lake Placid take place from March 29-April 1 (beginners) and April 2-5 (more experienced sliders). For more info, please call 1-800—USA-LUGE X 102.