US luge athletes view Winter Games with optimism


Tucker West competes in the men’s singles at the 50th 2021 FIL World Luge Championships on January 30, 2021 in Koenigssee, Germany.

The problems did not subside as the season progressed into December. Emily Sweeney missed two World Cups in Sochi, plus a sprint, as she is a member of the US Army’s World Class Athlete Program and a US Department of Defense warrant prevents military personnel from entering Russia. The 2018 Olympian trained on European tracks instead, but it was hard to miss the Sochi races.

“All I could think of was zeros, just knowing that I had no chance of getting the qualification we need for the Olympic team,” said Sweeney.

For all issues, the team sees positive points.

“The medal in the relay in China was a big plus,” said West. “It showed us that the potential is there. “

Sweeney then finished fifth in the women’s singles at the Altenberg World Cup in mid-December.

“I was able to come back from [missing Sochi] and get my level A [qualification for the 2022 Olympic Games] and I really showed speed, ”said Sweeney. “So I’m excited about this prospect. “

With a sixth place finish at the Igls World Cup last weekend, Sweeney met the qualifying criteria to make his second US Olympic team.

Note: USA Luge has qualified the maximum of three men and three women, plus a doubles team to compete in the Beijing Winter Games. Only Austria, Germany, Latvia and the Russian Olympic Committee qualified more athletes, with two doubles teams each. USA Luge athletes are trying to lock these places.

Now the good news – Relais

USA Luge’s best chance for a medal at the Beijing Games is probably the relay, an event that features a female and male skater, as well as a doubles team. The teams slide in series and the team with the fastest combined time wins.

The US sliders have been strong in the team relays since the discipline made its debut at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Although the team finished sixth in Sochi, it was only 0.103 from second on the podium. at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Two years later, at the 2020 World Championships, Britcher, West and Mazdzer / Terdiman’s team won the bronze medal.

Discipline is one of the reasons Terdiman, who turned 33 this week, stayed on after the 2018 Winter Olympics. He wanted to help his teammates win World Cup, World Championship medals. and Olympic in the team relay.

The 2022 Olympic track is long – about 5 seconds longer than most other tracks on the World Cup circuit – and American lugers are known for their good driving skills on toboggan runs around the world.

“[The long track] is going to give us an advantage for the team competition where three sleds – a woman, a man and a doubles team – have to be perfect for almost three minutes in total, ”explained Mazdzer. “I think that’s where our strength is going to be on Team USA.”

The American sliders proved it in the first World Cup team relay of the season, which took place on the Olympic track in 2022. It was a total surprise for Mazdzer and Terdiman, who weren’t even supposed to take part in this relay because they had not qualified to take part in the World Cup doubles the day before. The young doubles team of Dana Kellogg / Duncan Segger fared better. But these athletes gave the relay place to Mazdzer / Terdiman so that the duo could gain more experience on the Olympic track.

“Socket [silver] at the world cup here in China in the team event was shocking to say the least, ”Mazdzer posted on Instagram.

“Crazy waves of emotions this weekend, absolute desperation on top of the world,” he continued. “It has definitely helped build our confidence and is a great way to end a difficult two weeks.”

A few weeks later, in the second stint this season, USA Luge finished fourth on the track in Altenberg, Germany. This time the squad was made up of Sweeney, West and Mazdzer / Terdiman, who had dropped from 23rd to 13th in doubles the day before.

“I’m very proud of how quickly we got the sled (and ourselves – mentally) back under control and had our two best runs of the week,” Terdiman posted on Instagram.

“Yes, we missed an opportunity to get our first top ten of the year, but we’re working really hard on our ride right now and I’m happy to say we’re starting to feel a lot better on the luge. We are still fighting this difficult battle to be qualified and ready for Beijing and we are facing these challenges head on. “

He probably spoke on behalf of the entire American team ending his post with: “We’re ready to keep attacking, GAME ON!”

The United States will nominate its 2022 Olympic team after the World Cup weekend in Sigulda, Latvia, scheduled for January 8-9. The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee will officially announce all Olympic teams from January 22 to 25.



Naomi C. Amerson