After winning a silver medal in the opening team relay of the World Cup season on Sunday, a happy American luge team will board the charter flight from Beijing on Monday.
The event, which featured US luge athletes Ashley Farquharson and Tucker West in singles, and the doubles team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman, ended an almost three-week stay at the 2022 Olympic site, marking the end of the pre-Olympic test races. .
“I had a great stint today. It was my second stint in my life and it was really a lot of fun. Farquharson said in a statement. “This third run was the best of the day for me so it was really cool.”
After touching the touchpad at the end of the track, Farquharson handed the race over to West. The Ridgefield, Connecticut slider had the fastest reaction time on the tour and displayed it at the Yanqing National Sliding Center in China.
“It was two weeks of learning (the course)”, West said in a statement. “We came here thinking of something else about the track. We thought it would be some kind of slide track but it turned out not so it was a lot of learning at the start but in the team relay we worked together to understand the lines on the track , and finally our three sleds made three great runs and it paid off for us.
Farquharson, of Park City, Utah, started the day with an eighth place finish in the Eberspacher World Cup singles race and secured a portion of the Level B Olympic qualifier. Another top eight would complete the level. The result also equaled his best World Cup singles result (two innings) in his young career.
The upside-down nature of this discipline has never been more evident than on Sunday. Four of the 14 teams did not finish, including weekly contender Russia. That attrition rate didn’t include Germany, but for all intents and purposes it did.
The top nation, historically in the team relay, looked to be heading for another victory when Saturday’s double winners Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken gave up a significant lead and crashed late in the race. They barely had enough momentum to hit the touchpad and finish their run.
In a flash, the Germans went from first to worst and consolidated the Austrian victory, followed by the United States and Italy.
The three medal-winning countries had finished their efforts and were in the leaders’ lodge helplessly waiting for the three German sleds and their inevitable gold medal, according to their accumulated margin. What followed, however, was shock and awe – shock at seeing the Germans’ unusual demise and admiration for their own race.
The winners clocked 3 minutes and 6.953 seconds to finish ahead of the Americans by 0.375 seconds. The Italian quartet was 0.003 seconds behind the United States
Digging deeper, Thomas Steu and Lorenz Koeller’s doubles team won the team relay for Austria covering issues faced by her singles teammates Madeleine Egle and 2018 Olympic champion David Gleirscher.
The American effort was badly needed for Mazdzer and Terdiman, who were thwarted this fall by Mazdzer’s broken foot who limited their preseason by sliding together on a brand new sled. Mazdzer, a 2018 Olympics silver medalist, did not qualify in singles for the World Cup, and together he and Terdiman, a two-time Olympian, failed to advance to the World Cup in doubles via qualifying for the Nations Cup.
Additionally, Mazdzer, a native of Salt Lake City and Saranac Lake, as the only athlete in two events, was forced to choose between singles and doubles training during the international training weeks of each session. He had to choose between the two disciplines instead of having a session for each. The three-time Olympian and his sled mate turned an opportunity they never expected.
“Jayson and I held it together” Mazdzer said in a statement. “We weren’t expected to be here. Shout out to the younger ones (Dana Kellogg and Duncan Segger) for an extra practice run and we gave it up.
Technically, Kellogg and Segger qualified for the team relay start via Saturday’s race times, but gave that opportunity to their teammates, who otherwise would have left Beijing without a competitive race before the February Olympics.
“It was a great team effort today” says Terdiman, of Berwick, Pa. “It was Ashley’s first World Cup medal overall so I’m really happy to be a part of it. Tucker with the fastest reaction as always, and Chris and I, being the older athletes that we are, had a good reaction for our age, and we got off the rails. It’s always great to be part of the team relay and happy to come away from China with a silver medal.
In addition to leading his winning relay team’s lead stage later in the day, Egle won his first career World Cup singles race to start the new campaign. Her victory marked Austria’s first Women’s World Cup victory in 24 years; the previous Austrian winner was Andrea Tagwerker in 1997.
Egle was seconded by teammate Lisa Schulte in third place. The latter athlete landed her very first podium.
Germany’s Julia Taubitz finished between the Austrians, 0.1 seconds behind the winner in another unusual race in the history of the Women’s World Cup. Taubitz’s teammates Anna Berreiter took fourth place, while 2018 Olympic silver medalist Dajana Eitberger took fifth.
This 1,583-meter track has given rise to a number of slider problems in recent weeks. Sunday night races may have presented an additional concern created by temperatures in the 1920s, leading to firmer and faster ice.
Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger, four-time Olympic champion, was among those affected. Geisenberger was in contention in the first stage only to lose control after curve 13 and slipped through the finish light. The multiple winner obtained the fourth best second round.
Two-time Olympian Summer Britcher of Glen Rock, Pa. Suffered the same fate. She was in third place well in the first stage, but drifted into the final curves. Britcher landed in 14th place, Emily Sweeney, of Lake Placid, was 16th and Brittney Arndt, of Park City, who hit the roof in Curve 12, chose not to take her second run.
Three of the four Americans on the fall World Cup tour will represent the United States in Beijing. The entire squad will be nominated after the seventh World Cup in Sigulda, Latvia, which is scheduled for the weekend of January 8-9.
The circuit now heads directly to Sochi on a charter flight for two World Cup weekends on the 2014 Olympic course. These races replace Whistler and Lake Placid, which were withdrawn from the program at the end of the summer.
The US contingent in Sochi will not include Sweeney and Kellogg and Segger’s doubles team. Sweeney and Kellogg are members of the World Class Athlete Program of the US Army National Guard. Due to a mandate from the US Department of Defense, no US military can visit Russia – these three competitors will instead go to European runways over the next two weeks.