Winterberg, Germany - November 27, 2016 - With weather changing from warm to cold to warm again, Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman of the United States drove their doubles sled to a fourth place finish Sunday in a BMW Sprint World Cup luge race.
This occurred a day after their sixth place result in Viessmann World Cup doubles, as the team embarks on its third season together.
The sprint is a single-heat race featuring the top 15 from each discipline. It is termed a sprint, or flying start, into the timing mechanism which is located 100 meters below the handles, and significantly lower than traditional World Cup races. The format allows the luge athletes to build momentum before the clock starts.
“We were knocking on the door this weekend,” said Mortensen, front driver from Huntington Station, N.Y. “That’s good news for us. We’re picking up right where we left off. So we’re right there in fourth place on a German track in a sprint cup, which is kind of our signature event. We really gain a lot of speed going down the track. So without that start hindering our performance, it really puts us in medal contention.”
Seeking more speed was also significant for the team that went to the last Winter Games on different doubles sleds. They are currently ranked fifth in the overall World Cup standings, which mirrors their final rank of last season.
“This is a flowing track,” remarked Terdiman, the back driver hailing from Berwick, Pa. “We’re trying to build pressure (in the corners) all the way down. Today especially, I felt like Matt and I pushed ourselves to picking up more speed going down the course itself and it really helped us get the great result today.”
Sochi Olympic bronze medalist and 2009 World Champion Erin Hamlin led the U.S. women’s effort in the sprint event with a sixth place performance, after finishing 14th in Saturday’s two-run singles competition. She’s eighth in the season-long World Cup standings.
“All fall, I’ve been playing around with different equipment,” said the Remsen, N.Y. native. “I’ve never really done that in my career. So it was a little bit different. I was trying to dial some stuff in. I haven’t really felt super comfortable all week. Normally I can dial my lines in pretty well and haven’t been able to do that. So I tried something a little different today. It was definitely better.
“I still didn’t have great runs. There’s still a decent amount of time in there (to be gained). It was my best run out of all my race runs but there’s still some work to do.”
German doubles teams swept the sprint podium in a race where the medal winners were separated by 0.06 of a second. Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken found time in the long, uphill 14th and final curve to overcome Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt as well as Robin Geueke and David Gamm.
The winners sprinted home in 31.347 seconds, merely 0.005 of a second ahead of Sochi Olympic gold medalists Wendl and Arlt. Geueke and Gamm were next in 31.402. Mortensen and Terdiman clocked 31.469.
Jake Hyrns, of Muskegon, Mich., and Anthony Espinoza, of Park City, Utah, finished 13th in 31.843. Justin Krewson, of Eastport, N.Y., and Andrew Sherk, of Fort Washington, Pa., did not qualify in the Nations Cup race on Friday.
German Dajana Eitberger, Saturday’s bronze medalist, raced past Austria’s Birgit Platzer by 0.06 for the gold medal. Platzer’s silver was the first podium result for her nation since Nina Reithmayer’s Olympic silver medal nearly seven years ago in Vancouver. Natalie Geisenberger, the Winterberg singles winner from Bavaria, took bronze in 39.201.
Summer Britcher, of Glen Rock, Pa., was 11th in the sprint cup with a time of 39.439, while Emily Sweeney, of Suffield, Conn., finished 14th in 39.492.
Men’s singles kicked off the second day in Winterberg, one that had medal-winning prospects for Tucker West and USA Luge in the singles race. Sitting in second place late in the opening heat, the Ridgefield, Conn. Olympian was disqualified for being overweight.
That left two teammates in the field. Two-time Olympian Chris Mazdzer, of Saranac Lake, N.Y., second here last February in rain and wind, landed in 11th place, 0.478 of a second from first-time World Cup winner Johannes Ludwig of Germany. Taylor Morris, of South Jordan, Utah, was 20th, 0.630 from the top. Jonny Gustafson, of Massena, N.Y., a junior national team member, did not qualify on Friday for singles, thus losing the chance to compete in the sprint.
Ludwig’s two heats down the Winterberg layout totaled 1 minute, 44.732 seconds. Roman Repilov, of Russia, twice a junior world champion, grabbed the silver in 1:44.921, with Andi Langenhan, also of Germany, collecting the bronze medal in 1:44.977.
Defending world and World Cup champion Felix Loch was fourth, 0.05 from the podium, but he made amends for that by winning the BMW Sprint Cup later in the day.
Loch secured the sprint victory in 36.529, followed by Stepan Federov of Russia in 36.615 and Ludwig in 36.651.
Mazdzer, the lone U.S. entry in the men’s sprint, took 11th place in 36.768. He’s 10th ranked in overall season points.
The World Cup tour now flies to North America for its next three races starting Friday and Saturday (Dec. 2-3) in Lake Placid, followed by Whistler, B.C. (Dec. 9-10) and Park City, Utah (Dec. 16-17).
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