The season after an Olympic Winter Games is a time for transition and this was illustrated by the USA Luge National Championships in Lake Placid, New York last weekend.
With the retirement of Erin Hamlin and Emily Sweeney recovering from injury at the 2018 Winter Games, two-time Olympian Summer Britcher took her place at the head of the U.S. team and won her second national title.
Britcher swept to victory by winning all four races, finishing ahead of runner-up Brittney Arndt in each, with Raychel Germaine third in three of the four. They finished 1-2-3 and will team with Sweeney (when ready) on the FIL World Cup circuit.
“It felt pretty good,” said Britcher. “I had a few mistakes but it’s the beginning of the season so we’re just getting things cleaned up and figured out and getting ready for World Cup. It’s definitely a great way to start the season. You always want to start on top.”
PyeongChang silver medalist Chris Mazdzer won his eighth men’s national title by taking the first three races, and won with a margin of 0.865 over runner-up Johnny Gustafson (who won the fourth race). Olympian Tucker West finished third, 1.063 seconds behind the winner.
Those three will slide for the U.S. on the World Cup tour that starts in Austria next month. In the meantime, Mazdzer has been especially busy, as he is now teaming with returning PyeongChang Olympian Jayson Terdiman on the U.S. Doubles sled. They slid together as juniors 10 years ago, but with the retirement of Matt Mortensen, Mazdzer has stepped back in.
“The four runs were really good,” said Mazdzer. “I honestly wasn’t expecting to have that consistent runs based on the fact that I was going doubles to singles, but it was doubles that I was having the hardest time with. It’s really nice that singles still feels good and it’s still there.
“On the U.S. team there’s great competition. I think most of the time, a U.S. person wins the World Cup here, so if you can be on top here, that’s a good mark to be at.” Summaries:
USA Luge National Championships
Lake Placid, New York (USA) ~ 26-27 October 2018
(Full results here)
Men: 1. Chris Mazdzer, 3:27.305 for four runs; 2. Johnny Gustafson, 3:28.170; 3. Tucker West, 3:28.364; 4. Zach Digregorio, 3:30.958; 5. Sean Hollander, 3:31.075; 6. Keaton Jens, 3:32.993; 7. Sam Day, 3:38.292; 8. Ian Smith, 3:38.310.
Women: 1. Summer Britcher, 2:58.408 for four runs; 2. Brittney Arndt, 2:58.966; 3. Raychel Germaine, 2:59.369; 4. Ashley Farquharson, 2:59.762; 5. Grace Weinberg, 3:00.368; 6. Chevonne Forgan, 3:01.844; 7 Sophia Kirkby, 3:02.467; only finalists.