LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – The two-day Norton USA Luge Junior National Championships at Mount Van Hoevenberg concluded Sunday exactly the way they began on Saturday with singles athletes Sophie Kirkby and Matt Greiner, and the doubles team of Dana Kellogg/Duncan Segger, racing away with their respective 2020 national championships. All three sleds swept the weekend races by comfortable margins.
There were three-events-in-two-days with separate seeding races daily. The singles divisions then combined their four heats over the entire weekend to determine the 2020 winners. In doubles, only Sunday’s event counted toward the Norton title. USA Luge created the formats to mirror the Olympic competitions where singles are contested with four legs over two days, while doubles are a one-day, two-heat affair.
Kirkby, of Ray Brook, N.Y., registered the best individual times in each of the first three heats on her way to a four-run aggregate of 3 minutes, 0.851 seconds and her first junior national trophy. Kirkby also collected the 200 seeding race points as well. Chevonne Forgan, of Chelmsford, Mass., who got a taste of World Cup action several weeks ago and is a graduating junior, was next in 3:01.389. Forgan’s total included the best single heat of the weekend when she raced the Mount Van Hoevenberg track in 44.691 on her final run as a junior. Elana Morrison, of Muskegon, Mich., took the bronze medal in 3:02.633.
“It feels great to win,” exclaimed Kirkby. “The runs were not bad. I did have some rough edges in that final run (Sunday), but overall I pulled it through.”
Greiner, of Park City, Utah, a participant in the 2020 Youth Olympic Games (YOG), opened the four-heat event on Saturday with a second-place run, and then went on a tear over the last three legs. Greiner posted the best individual times in those final three attempts on his way to a winning 3:25.446 coming off start number two at the Olympic Sports Complex.
“I’m very proud of myself and happy with how I performed,” smiled Greiner. “Last week was a bit of a disappointment, so to come in here junior week and perform to the best of my ability, it felt super good.
“After day one, I thought it might be a bit of a fluke. It was super hard ice, but I really showed my consistency and my skill on this track. It’s awesome to come out here and show them who’s boss.”
Zack DiGregorio, of Medway, Mass., was next in 3:35.753 with four consistent runs that were ranked either second or third fastest throughout the event. Lake Placid’s Sean Hollander gave up ground in the first leg, with a ninth-place run, but he rallied with three steady top three runs and took the bronze medal in 3:26.755. Both DiGregorio and Hollander saw World Cup duty in the closing weeks of the season. Hollander has aged out of juniors and will move up to the national team next season.
After three starts in the World Cup over the second half of the winter, the doubles team of Kellogg, of Chesterfield, Mass. and Segger of Lake Placid returned to their home track and raced off with their second Norton Junior National crown. As this was also their graduation weekend, Kellogg and Segger could not take the seeding points, but they gladly accepted the Norton national victory. The winners clocked 2:59.326 racing from the World Cup start height.
“It felt really good out there,” commented Kellogg. “The ice was nice and hard again today, nice fast ice, really good racing conditions.”
Hollander and Michael O’Gara, of La Crescenta, Calif., picked up the silver medal in 3:02.130, followed by Maya Chan and Reannyn Weiler in 3:05.024. Chan, of Chicago, and Weiler, of Whitesboro, N.Y., finished fourth at the YOG at St. Moritz in January, and are among the many hopeful women’s doubles teams that this new discipline will be contested at the 2026 Winter Games in Milan-Cortina.
The doubles national race was the first in several years were enough teams entered to make it an official championship event.
“It’s super nice to have a race at the end of the year,” stated Segger. “You don’t really have much to work towards unless you can get a race in junior nationals, so it’s nice to see so many doubles teams coming out.”
The team of Sam Day, of Wantagh, N.Y. and Sam Eckert of Wilmington, N.Y., eighth at the YOG, did not enter as Day is nursing a foot injury.
USA LUGE SIDETRACKS
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 in Lake Placid 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.