The long offseason is over and the Olympic season is about to begin. The Eberspacher World Cup luge tour kicks off November 19-21 at the Yanqing National Sliding Center in China.
The new track near Beijing, the site of the February Winter Olympics, has attracted the attention of the world’s fastest sliders since the first week of November. The pandemic delayed the appearance of the circuit on the new course until this month. With the World Cup just beginning, in three months the Olympic luge races will be over.
Nine World Cup weekends will precede the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, with USA Luge naming its Olympic team after the seventh race in Sigulda, Latvia, which is scheduled for January 8-9, 2022. The process begins on the Olympic site in just a matter of days.
“The track is very unique” Two-time Olympian Tucker West said in a statement. “The learning curve has been much steeper than anyone expected. Each day gets better and better as we determine the right guidelines on the track. The World Cup race is just around the corner, so we’re trying to put the finishing touches on the (driving) lines while trying to find speed. “
The track has shallower turn angles, uphill sections that create negative G-forces, a 16-curve layout with super-long radius turns, a 360-degree loop, and speeds that are expected to exceed 80 miles per hour. time.
“The region we are in is amazing,” said Ashley Farquharson, an athlete in search of her first Olympic spot. “I love how close we are to the mountains and how beautiful the sunrises and sunsets are always.
“The track is very different from most of the others and requires a different approach”, she added. “But we’re cutting corners and it’s going well.”
“The track is definitely different from all the others in the world”, added Jayson Terdiman, who will try to advance to his third game with his third doubles partner, Chris Mazdzer. “The way it’s built and shaped, it’s really hard to compare it to anything I’ve slipped on before. For me the biggest difference has been the lack of pressure in the corners, which makes it difficult to feel exactly where we are (up or down) when exiting the corners.
“Outside of board sports, the Beijing region is absolutely magnificent,” he added. “The mountains in this region are breathtaking.
After only competing in the second half of last year because of the pandemic, Americans will have a busy schedule this year. The travel schedule is busy – there are no breaks the rest of the season, other than a few days at home during the December holidays.
The 13 American athletes are part of the collection of 141 sleds from 27 nations totaling 170 runners who have been training in Yanqing for nearly two weeks. The collection includes reigning World Cup champions Natalie Geisenberger and Felix Loch of Germany, as well as Austrian doubles World Cup defenders Thomas Steu and Lorenz Koeller.
The American athletes include three men’s, four women’s and three doubles teams, led by Mazdzer, the 2018 Olympic silver medalist and a native of Saranac Lake. The three-time Olympian hopes to qualify in singles and doubles, despite a broken foot in late September. He and his double partner Terdiman are also working with new equipment in addition to learning this new course.
Since this is the only pre-Olympic training for everyone before February, there is the dual purpose of not only learning a new track, but adapting the equipment and settings of the sled. to this provision.
For the United States, the evolution of its technical programs has doubled over the past eight years, with the involvement of team sponsors working with the coaching staff throughout the year to create the fastest sleds. possible.
“One thing that kept our spirits up is that the new sled, even with our difficult descents and mistakes, seems to have a lot of speed. “ Terdiman said. “It looks like Andre (Florscheutz, German Olympic medalist and US luge technology consultant) has once again delivered on his promises. And I know that we will have full confirmation of this once we have a few more runs to our credit and especially on tracks that we already know.
The new sleds will have to wait until after Beijing, when the World Cup moves to Sochi for two weeks, replacing events that were moved from Whistler and Lake Placid.
USA Luge brought three doubles teams to China. In addition to Mazdzer / Terdiman, the squad will field Dana Kellogg with Duncan Segger, as well as the new duo of Zack DiGregorio and Sean Hollander, provided that DiGregorio recovers in time from an injury.
“The structure of the track is amazing and very modern. It’s extremely spectator friendly and I can’t wait to get back to racing. says DiGregorio.
“The new track here in Beijing is unlike any other track we’ve been to before”, Hollander said. “There is very little pressure in the corners so it can be difficult to know where you should drive. It definitely keeps you on your toes and you have to be on the ball from top to bottom. “
Four American women will hit the ice with Summer Britcher, the team’s most successful singles slider of all time; Emily Sweeney, bronze medalist at the 2019 World Championships; Farquharson and Brittney Arndt. Britcher was a member of the 2014 and 2018 Olympic teams; Sweeney competed in 2018; Arndt and Farquharson are both looking to make their first Olympic nomination.
Mazdzer, West and Jonny Gustafson make up the men’s team, with the latter athlete aiming for his first Olympic team.
The races will begin with qualifying for the Nations Cup on Friday morning in Beijing or Thursday at 8 p.m. in the United States. The weekend action will feature men’s and women’s singles, doubles and the team relay. The Saturday men’s doubles and men’s singles start at 3:30 a.m., while the women’s race and team relay start at 5:00 a.m. on Sunday.
All World Cup competitions will be broadcast live this winter, courtesy of JFM Sports of Lake Placid, on olympicchannel.com with luge broadcast veteran Tim Singer calling for action. The singer will be joined by a group of former luge athletes who will provide full color commentary for the live broadcasts.