Wasatch Luge Club
PARK CITY, Utah – Ty Andersen and Emily Sweeney won gold medals in their respective divisions, Saturday, at the Norton Junior National Luge Championships and Seeding Races in Park City, Utah.
While Sweeney distanced herself from the field over the four heats that were contested over two days, Andersen held on as Tucker West and Aidan Kelly made furious attempts to overthrow the overnight leader.
The weekend event offered three races in two days. Friday and Saturday were separate seeding competitions with accompanying points. The combination of the four runs over two days were used to determine the junior age class national champions (to age 20).
On an overcast day in the Wasatch Mountains, West captured the second seeding race and cut into Andersen’s 0.35 of a second midway advantage, but could not overcome the entire deficit.
Andersen, of Alpine, Utah, totaled three minutes, 01.816 seconds over the four heats. “This is what I was going for,” Andersen said later.
West, of Ridgefield, Conn., rallied to come within 0.13 of a second with a total time of 3:01.949 on the 1,315 meter track. Aidan Kelly, of West Islip, N.Y., took the bronze medal in 3:02.195.
The second seeding race saw West improve from Friday’s silver medal. His two-run Saturday total of 1:30.108 placed him nearly one-tenth of a second in front of second place racer Kelly, and .23 ahead of third place Andersen.
“I like singles more, but I need to slide doubles,” said the 6-foot-7-inch Andersen. “Sliding doubles is good for me. But I liked being able to focus on singles the last few weeks.”
West, in singles, and Andersen, in doubles, were part of the quartet that won a gold medal in the team relay at the winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in January.
As for Andersen’s future in the two disciplines, “It’s results based. If I do well in doubles, I’ll have to train it. But if I do well in singles, I’d like to stick with it.”
West collected the most Norton seeding race points with 185 for finishing second and first, while Andersen picked up 170 after taking first and third place in the two races. Kelly’s 155 points came from third and second place seeding race results.
These two separate races will be among the determining factors when the fall 2012 teams are named by USA Luge coaches later in the spring.
Sweeney, of Suffield, Conn., took a 0.75 of a second halfway lead and stretched it to 1.1 seconds over Summer Britcher, of Glen Rock, Pa. on the 1,140 meter long women’s layout. In the process Sweeney reclaimed the junior national crown that Britcher grabbed in 2011.
“It feels good to get the title back. I’m not gonna lie,” chuckled Sweeney after winning her second Norton junior title to accompany a Youth A national Championship earlier in her career.
A winner of two Junior World Cups in Park City in December and three Challenge Cup gold medals during the winter, Sweeney took the second seeding event in 1:29.965. Britcher, another member of the YOG gold medal unit, was runner-up again in 1:30.318. Raychel Germaine, of Roswell, Ga., who competed in the YOG women’s singles race, wound up third for the second straight day in 1:31.617.
The winner maxed out with 200 seeding points. Britcher had 170 and Germaine 140.
Sweeney’s four-heat Norton Junior National Championship time was 3:01.535. Britcher clocked 3:02.638, while Germaine accrued 3:04.683. The individual race results were identical each day.
“They were not perfect runs,” continued Sweeney. “I tried to have clean runs and looked at it as training runs for junior world championships here next season.”
One final major event – the Norton National Championships and Seeding Races – remains on the domestic schedule before the 2011-2012 race schedule officially ends. Those competitions will be held in a similar three-races-in-two-days format on March 12-13 at the Olympic Sports Complex outside Lake Placid, N.Y.
Complete results here
Complete Norton Junior National Seeding Points here