American junior sliders had to compete against more than athletes from other nations in this past weekend’s Word Cup in Calgary, Alberta – they also had to battle strong Chinook winds that gusted to 30 miles per hour. Depending upon the luck of the draw, most athletes saw their hopes relegated to a crapshoot, according to USA Luge Press Coordinator Sandy Caligiore.
The first race took place Thursday, Dec. 1, in the junior women’s (up to age 20) division. Germany swept the top two positions, with American Kate Hansen sliding strong and claiming the bronze. The USA’s Emily Sweeney was fast in the first heat until losing time near the end of her run but she posted the fourth-fastest time in the second heat to improve to fifth overall. The third American entrant, Summer Britcher, was fast in each of her runs until the exit of curve 9 (Kreisel), unluckily succumbing to the Chinook winds in each heat and ultimately finishing 20th.
In the youth A women’s (up to age 17) race, the top three spots went to Italy, Italy and Russia. The top American finisher was Raychel Germaine, who gained speed in each run and finished in eighth place. The other American slider, Theresa Buckley, was very fast in each heat, but as so many other sliders, fell victim to the windy conditions in each run en route to a 12th place finish.
The doubles race saw a huge separation in a field that is normally quite close, again evidence of the windy conditions. Americans Jacob Hyrns and Andrew Sherk put down the fastest run of the second heat and improved upon their fifth-fastest first heat to claim the bronze medal. Germany and Russia claimed the first two spots. The second American sled of Tyler Andersen and Patrick Edmunds posted the fastest start in the first heat and the fifth fastest overall time in the second heat and ended up in seventh place.
The Junior World Cup resumed on Friday with the junior men’s race. The first three spots went to Germany, Italy and Germany, with Aiden Kelly finishing in eighth place for the top American finish. The USA’s Anthony Espinoza couldn’t capitalize on a fast start and finished in 24th, while two other American sliders were disqualified after their first heat: Tyler Andersen for a sled depth violation and Aaron Barge for a total weight violation.
In the youth A men’s race, American Tucker West used his fast start to follow up his bronze medal performance in World Cup #2 with the same result in World Cup #3. West finished behind sleds from Canada and Austria. The USA’s Riley Stohr and Levi Underwood finished in 10th and 12th place, respectively.
Complete results are available on the FIL website.
The Junior World Cup circuit now heads to Europe for races on Dec. 10-11, but athletes Emily Sweeney, Kate Hansen, Jacob Hyrns and Andrew Sherk will stay behind and train in Calgary in anticipation of the Senior World Cup event in Calgary on Dec. 16-17. Sweeney and Hansen will race in the women’s division, and Hyrns/Sherk will attempt to qualify for the doubles race.
It’s interesting to note that American athletes made quite a medal haul in the first two Junior World Cups on their home ice in Park City, Utah, while the Canadians managed only one medal on their home track this past weekend.