A quartet of American athletes finished fourth in the Team Altenberg relay at the end of the Ebersbacher World Cup stage near the Czech border on Sunday afternoon.
Emily Sweeney, Jonny Gustafson, Chris Mazdzer and Jason Terdiman approached the 0.18sec podium on a sunny, seasonal day. This was the third team relay this season. Team USA Luge, fourth in the World Cup Teams Relay, opened the year with a silver medal on the new Olympic track near Beijing.
In the morning men’s singles race, 2018 Olympic silver medalist Mazdzer slipped to 17th, followed by Gustafson, 19, and Tucker West, 24.
With three races remaining in the Olympic qualifying stage, two runners are poised to achieve satisfactory results at Level C with the potential to increase their standings even further.
Tucker West, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, has already won the Level C playoffs as well, with a chance to do better as he aims to make a third Olympic team.
Mazdzer of Salt Lake City needs a 16th place finish to confirm that he finished fourth with Team USA.
One of the top 21 will take on Massena’s Gustafsson as he searches for his first Olympic team. Gustafsson competed on a borrowed German sled on Sunday as there was not enough time to prepare for his ride, who arrived in the middle of the night from Beijing, China.
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 on January 22-25.
Meanwhile, Austria has won three of the four weekend races in Altenburg as it builds on the success of the Beijing Olympics.
The event started in Altenberg from the lowest of the three starting positions. This start is only used for double races at this track in Saxony, so the speeds and pressure in the corners for the women and men in the relay are not quite what they are used to. That may have explained the problem for Austrian Madeleine Eagle, who won the women’s race on Saturday. His race only finished eighth in the overall standings, putting his team well below Germany’s winning pace.
Three fixed rounds by Julia Topitz and Max Langenhan and the double team of Tony Eggert and Sasha Behnken did the job for the winners in 2 minutes 23.954 seconds. She was 0.3 seconds faster than Italy, with Russia in third, 0.5 seconds behind her pace.
Team USA Luge finished with a time of 2:24.631. Lake Placid’s Sweeney and Gustafson dropped off the track and finished fourth in a row. Gustafsson also had the fastest reaction time in the men’s main draw.
The excitement and whims of the relay team were once again on display and this time the Latvian victim. The nation struggled for victory as Elisa Teruma and Christoss Apargoods handed first place to the doubles team made up of Martins Potts and Roberts Bloom. This promising sled lost milliseconds, but then crashed and never made it to the touchpad.
After three of the six relay teams, Germany leads the World Cup standings with 231 points. Italy is in second place out of 210; Austria is in third place with a score of 205; Fourth place in the United States with 187 points. Team competitions continue in January with competitions in Winterberg, Germany, Oberhof, Germany and St. Moritz, Switzerland.
There is nothing more exciting than drawing two athletes in a millisecond and sharing the gold medal at the World Cup. It came on Sunday when Langenhan, who was trying to qualify for his first German Olympic team, slipped from sixth in the second round to first-round leader and two-time world champion Wolfgang Kindle. Obtained from Austria.
“I think it’s really great that the two of us are on top of the podium,” Kendall, now an eight-time World Cup winner who has seen a spike in the last three races, said. “It was also unfortunate that one of them finished second by a thousandth of a second.”
This opposite result is the first of its kind in 10 years. In a double race in Park City, Utah, two Austrian double teams – brothers Andreas Wolfgang Linger and Peter Benz/George Fischler – shared the win.
Langenhan added after his second win of the season: “I have never experienced that there was a thousandth of a decision which is funny. It is great for the sport if you finish the race with a thousand after three kilometers.”
Despite errors in the second set, the runners ended up winning with a combined time of 1:47.997. Germany’s Johannes Ludwig, the World Cup leader, scored the second-fastest time of the day, but fell to third place with a time of 1:48,030.
Three-time Olympic champion Felix Loach, also from Germany, came fourth, while Abergoods, winner last week, finished fifth.
Italy’s Dominic Fishnaller, fourth at the Pyeongchang Olympics, was in the medal position until the end of Group B but slipped to seventh. Olympic title holder David Gleicher of Austria was 15th.
Ludwig’s World Cup points total rose to 405, followed by Langenhan at 336, and third with a 326 slot. They are the first to represent the country at the February Winter Games.
The World Cup Tour is back on Earth after six weeks in the air. The teams travel to Eagles, Austria, for the fifth stop in the nine-part series next weekend. The 1964 and 1976 Olympic track races will include the Sprint Cup and give all nations a well-deserved vacation.
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