Emily Sweeney celebrates her 3rd place finish at the 2023 Winterberg World Cup. Photo: FIL/Galinovskis
WINTERBERG, Germany – USA Luge athlete Emily Sweeney returned to the podium at the FIL World Cup in Winterberg, Germany, taking home the bronze medal in the women’s singles race. Later, Sweeney competed in the women’s singles World Cup sprint finale, where she secured third place overall.
Sweeney (Suffield, Conn.) was back on the ice following a brief hiatus which forced her to miss the World Championships earlier this month due to an injury.
Sweeney upset a German podium sweep, taking bronze with a time of one minute 52.038 seconds. Germany’s Julia Taubitz won the race with a time of 1:51.683, with teammate Anna Berreiter in second with a time of 1:51.891.
American Ashley Farquharson (Park City, Utah) placed 14th in 1:52.917. Brittany Arndt (Park City, Utah) and three-time Olympian Summer Britcher (Glen Rock, Pa.) both did not compete this weekend due to injuries.
“I'm feeling pretty good although I do feel a little sluggish in my body. When I had to step out during worlds, I couldn't do anything, so during that time I felt a bit behind in the start area,” said Sweeney. “To be able to slide like I did feels really great, and I just needed a win. Getting on the podium felt like a win and it felt so good to watch the flag up there. I feel like there's some good vibes going forward.”
Sweeney has a history of medal winning performances in Winterberg, including the 2019 World Championship bronze medal. The achievement was particularly notable, as it came one year after a major crash at the 2018 Olympic Games which resulted in an injury that still affects her five years later.
Taubitz remains at the top of the World Cup overall standings in first place with 807 points. Eitberger is in second with 702, and Germany’s Anna Berreiter is in third with 649. Sweeney is in fifth place with 508 points, Farquharson in 11th with 343, Britcher in 16th with 279, and Arndt in 17th with 222.
Following the women’s singles race, the sprint races closed out the weekend, featuring the top 15 athletes based on their finish in their respective disciplines during the Winterberg World Cup. Start times for the single heat sprint races begin at a lower point on the track than traditional races, placing an emphasis on driving skill over speed at the start. Instead of a start time, initial velocities are displayed. Points earned during the sprint races count toward overall World Cup points. Three sprint races were held this season.
As the final sprint of the season, Winterberg also set the stage to crown the sprint World Cup Champion in each discipline.
Women’s Singles Sprint
In women’s singles, Taubitz took the gold medal followed by Latvia’s Kendija Aparjode taking silver and Germany’s Merle Fraebel placing third. Sweeney placed ninth and Farquharson followed in tenth.
In the overall standings, Sweeney earned a spot on the podium, placing third. Taubitz took first place and Eitberger stood in second. Farquharson finished in sixth, Britcher in 13th, and Arndt in 16th.
Max Langenhan of Germany won the sprint, with Austria’s Jonas Mueller taking second. Three-time Olympic gold medalist and 2023 World Sprint Champion Felix Loch placed third.
Following a strong performance during the men’s singles race yesterday, American and 2022 Olympian Jonny Gustafson (Messina, N.Y.) placed 11th and three-time Olympian Tucker West (Ridgefield, Conn.) placed 13th.
In the overall standings, Dominik Fischnaller of Italy took top honors. Austria’s David Gleirscher and teammate Mueller placed second and third, respectively. Gustafson landed in seventh and West in tenth. 2018 Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer competed in the sprint race in Park City, Utah, placing him 18th overall.
Men’s Doubles Sprint
Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt secured their 50th career World Cup victory, winning gold and setting a new track record with a time of 30.798 seconds. Teammates Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken placed second, with Austria’s Thomas Gatt and Martin Schoepf rounding out the podium in third.
2022 Olympians Zack DiGregorio (Medway, Mass) and Sean Hollander (Lake Placid, N.Y.) placed seventh, and the duo of Dana Kellogg (Chesterfield, Mass.) and Duncan Segger (Lake Placid, N.Y.) placed 13th.
In the overall standings, Wendl and Arlt were first, followed by Eggert/Benecken in second, with Austria’s Yannick Mueller and Armin Frauscher in third. DiGregorio/Hollander finished eighth overall, with Kellogg/Segger in 13th.
Women’s Doubles Sprint
For the first time this season, a German women’s doubles team did not stand on the podium as Latvia’s Anda Upite and Sanija Ozolina won gold. Italy’s Andrea Vötter and Marion Oberhofer won the silver and teammates Nadia Falkensteiner and Annalena Huber rounded out the podium in third.
Americans Chevonne Forgan (Chelmsford, Mass.) and Sophie Kirkby (Ray Brook, N.Y.) placed sixth, and Maya Chan (Chicago, Illinois) and Reannyn Weiler (Whitesboro, N.Y.) placed seventh.
In the overall standings, Voetter/Oberhofer tied with Austria’s Selina Egle and Lara Kipp for first. Upite and Ozolina placed third. Forgan/Kirkby placed fourth, Chan/Weiler were sixth, and Britcher/Sweeney ranked eighth.
Like many other teams, the U.S squad will be paring down heading into the final two events of the season, with only the top points earners in each discipling continuing on the circuit. West, Sweeney, DiGregorio/Hollander and Forgan/Kirkby will head to St. Moritz next week. Gustafson, Farquharson, Kellogg/Segger and Chan/Weiler will returnto the United States to prepare for a March sled test in Park City. Britcher and Arndt will also remain Stateside for the rest of the season.
World Cup action continues in St. Moritz, Switzerland on February 18-19. To watch all races live and view archived competitions, please visit the FIL’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@FILLuge_Channel. The entire World Cup and World Championship season can be accessed from this portal.
(for more visit https://www.fil-luge.org/)