KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Two-time Olympian Tucker West raced to victory Friday afternoon outside Sochi in the first of three men’s selection races conducted by USA Luge.
The national governing body is using selection races in all three disciplines to determine its World Cup team. Inclusion on that squad is the first step on the way to achieving a 2022 Olympic nomination.
In the two-heat event, West, of Ridgefield, Conn., recorded run times of 52.182 and 53.217 seconds as weather conditions warmed into the 50s. His total of 1 minute, 45.399 seconds bested Jonny Gustafson, of Massena, N.Y. by over 0.7 of a second on the Sochi Olympic course. Gustafson seeks his first Olympic berth.
“Their sliding has become better throughout every session up to this point,” said Head Coach Robert Fegg. “Both had good runs, but that being said there is still lots to get done and the time left here is short. We have a couple more days left and we have to use them efficiently.”
The event did not include 2018 Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer. The Salt Lake City resident broke his foot 10 days ago on this 2014 Olympic track and underwent surgery on Wednesday.
The next men’s selection race is set for Sunday, with the final event occurring in Lake Placid on Oct. 16.
The American World Cup squad will produce the 10 nominees for February’s Olympic Games. Those competitors will be announced in mid-January after the seventh of nine meets on the Eberspacher World Cup tour.
Women and doubles selection competitions are slated for Oct. 16 in Lake Placid, followed by a pair in Park City, Utah on Oct. 24-25. The team will train at the Utah Olympic Park, site of two U.S. Olympic doubles medals in 2002, from Oct. 20-25.
The team’s Lake Placid and Park City training camps will be their lone appearances in the U.S. prior to the Beijing Winter Games.
Summer Britcher, a member of the 2014 and 2018 Olympic teams, is pre-qualified for the World Cup team and exempt from the selection procedure. The women’s field will include 2018 Olympian Emily Sweeney, the Park City duo of Brittney Arndt and Ashley Farquharson, as well as Chevonne Forgan. The latter three sliders are eyeing their first Olympic teams.
In doubles, three sleds will be comprised of Dana Kellogg and Duncan Segger, Zack DiGregorio and Sean Hollander, and Forgan with Sophie Kirkby. They, too, are battling for their initial Olympic berths.
As a result of his injury, Mazdzer and doubles partner Jayson Terdiman, of Berwick, Pa., are sidelined. Mazdzer has been on three Olympic teams dating back to 2010, while Terdiman competed in 2014 and 2018. Mazdzer would be Terdiman’s third doubles teammate in as many Games. He previously competed with Christian Niccum (2014) and Matt Mortensen (2018).
The World Cup season begins in Beijing Nov. 20-21.