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USA Luge representation grows on FIL commissions in artificial and natural track luge | Oct 20, 2014
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – The contributions of USA Luge to the International Luge Federation (FIL) continue to be recognized among the member nations, as the number of American officials and athletes is growing on the various commissions in artificial (Olympic) and natural track luge. Commissions through 2018 were established at last month’s FIL meetings outside Vienna, Austria. “As with any international federation, the FIL has numerous commissions, and it’s encouraging to see such representation from the United States at these various tables,” said USA Luge President and CEO Jim Leahy. “These individuals have given body and soul to our sport over many years, and have accrued a great depth of knowledge. We are seeing that being rewarded by their peers.” Claire DelNegro, of Lake Placid and Boston, has been a Vice President on the FIL executive board, and was recently named VP Sport in artificial track luge. DelNegro has been integral to FIL leadership for two decades. Two-time Olympian Chris Mazdzer, of Saranac Lake, N.Y., is the athlete representative on the sport commission. Other members of the sport commission include Olympic silver and bronze medalist Mark Grimmette, of Muskegon, Mich., who also serves as Sport Program Director for USA Luge. Zianibeth Shattuck-Owen, of Park City, Utah, is a member of the commission on youth and development. Members of the natural track commission include Tammy Wills, of Negaunee, Mich. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Eugene Byrne, of Lake Placid Sports Medicine, the USA Luge team doctor, was named to the four-person medical commission of the FIL through the Winter Games in South Korea. Ron Rossi, of Lake Placid, N.Y., was appointed to the Court of Arbitration committee of the FIL. Svein Romstad, of Atlanta, has the dual role of FIL Secretary General, as well as a member of the FIL Ethics Code working group. Romstad’s career with the FIL’s hierarchy also dates back 20 years. The FIL, based in Berchtesgaden, Germany, is headed by President Josef Fendt, also of Berchtesgaden.
Western New York Energy, LLC becomes Official Supporter of USA Luge | Oct 13, 2014
Relationship has its roots in annual I Love BBQ & Music Festival MEDINA, N.Y. – It’s said that sometimes business relationships begin from the most unlikely circumstances. In the case of Western New York Energy, LLC (WNYE) , becoming an Official Supporter of USA Luge, that genesis occurred in Lake Placid at the annual I Love BBQ and Music Festival. The event, organized by USA Luge and other community partners, is a summertime fundraiser for the local Shipman Youth Center. WNYE President and CEO Michael Sawyer has been a participant in the festival for many years. Conversations with USA Luge Marketing Manager Dmitry Feld, the coordinator of the Shipman fundraiser, subsequently led to the two barbecue friends forging a new relationship that will benefit WNYE and USA Luge. “WNYE is looking forward to this relationship with USA Luge, the only Olympic federation based in New York State,” said Sawyer. “We partner with hard-working farmers in our region, to produce clean, renewable energy. In a similar way, we are now involved with a sports federation that thinks creatively and aggressively to get itself to the finish line faster than others. “This is our first venture into the sports world, and we are happy to achieve that entry with the U.S. luge team.” WNYE, based in the Orleans County village of Medina, is just 10 years old, but their $90 million facility was the first operating ethanol plant in the northeast United States. The plant processes approximately 20 million bushels of corn into over 55 million gallons of fuel grade ethanol which is blended with gasoline throughout Western New York. “It’s important for our organization to be associated with a company that is local, like we are, and interested in developing their renewable assets to their fullest in helping other industries,” said Jim Leahy, CEO and Executive Director of USA Luge. “It’s also nice to see two New York businesses helping one another.” Other New York State and local entities to assist USA Luge are the Uihlein Foundation, High Peaks Dental and CW-X. “When we found out that WNYE promotes sustainability, it got us more excited about forging ahead,” continued Leahy. “Furthermore, given how this all started, it’s a perfect example of a good deed being paid forward.” The relationship enables WNYE to use the marks and symbols of USA Luge in its promotional materials, as well as the “Official Supporter” designation in its marketing and communications strategies.
Hamlin wins Lillehammer Cup, Clukey 4th, West 6th as camp ends | Oct 11, 2014
LILLEHAMMER, Norway – The last time Erin Hamlin was in a luge race, she was in the Sochi team relay. That was two days after capping the first Olympic singles medal in United States history. At the end of a week-long training camp Saturday in Lillehammer, Hamlin, unlike her medal-winning effort in February, came from behind to overtake German Julia Orlamuender and collected the gold medal in the pre-season Lillehammer Cup. “Everything came together really well. I just aimed to be consistent and comfortable,” said the Remsen, N.Y. racer. “The runs weren’t ideal, considering I had really good training most of the time. In the first run my lines at the top of the track were a little bit off, which costs a lot here. Second run was a lot better, but I had to work a little bit harder for the clean run than I would have liked.” The 2014 Olympic bronze medalist found speed at the bottom of the 1994 Olympic track, which will host a World Cup event this winter and the 2016 Youth Olympic Games. Hamlin posted times of 48.674 and 48.969 seconds for a combined 1 minute, 37.643 seconds. Julia Clukey, 2010 Olympian, 2013 World Cup silver medalist in Lake Placid and seven time winner of the team’s annual start competition, was third at the halfway mark of the race. She was a force in both legs and trailed Hamlin by just 0.01 of a second at the break. But the Augusta, Maine competitor lost time at the end of the final run and dropped to fourth overall, nearly 0.4 of a second behind her teammate. Orlamuender took the opening run lead by 0.17 of a second over Hamlin, before settling for the silver medal in 1:37.737. Andrea Voetter, of Italy, finished third, 0.23 of a second from the American. Tucker West, 2014 Olympian from Ridgefield, Conn., was sixth in a field dominated by rising Italian star Dominick Fischnaller. He, too, wrote the comeback story in the second run, as Fischnaller, sixth in Sochi, overtook Kristaps Maurins of Latvia, claiming victory by just 0.001 of a second. West, the youngest male to ever make the U.S. Olympic Luge Team, totaled 1:40.494. He was sixth best in both heats. “The race today was a great confidence boost for the upcoming season,” said West, now a freshman at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. “Although my runs weren't as clean as I would hope them to be in a race, I showed myself that there is some promising potential for speed, that hopefully I'll be able to tap into within the coming year. “I was a little nervous about the new sled setup, however, after a few minor tweaks I feel extremely confident in what I am riding, and can't wait to fine tune it more and more as the season progresses.” Two-time Olympian Chris Mazdzer of Saranac Lake, N.Y., stood eighth after the first run, and was en route to winning the final leg. But difficulties in curves eight through 10, according to Head Coach Miro Zayonc, dropped him to 16th place overall. Fischnaller, a Sochi Olympian, clocked two runs in 1:40.118, with Maurins next in 1:40.119. Kevin Fischnaller, also of Italy, took third in 1:40.198. Latvian brothers and Olympic medalists Andris and Juris Sics, Olympic bronze medalists in 2010 and 2014, were victorious in doubles, putting down two runs that totaled 1:36.837. They were ahead of Peter Penz and Georg Fischler, of Austria, by 0.15 of a second. Italy placed third and fourth, led by the ageless team of Christian Oberstolz and Patrick Gruber. The new U.S. duo of Matt Mortensen, of Huntington Station, N.Y. and Jayson Terdiman, of Berwick, Pa., took seventh in 1:37.856. Both slid in Sochi with different sled mates and had just 17 runs together prior to this week. They competed with their sled duct taped for preservation, affecting their aerodynamics properties. Hamlin and most of her teammates will be off the ice for the next week as Lake Placid prepares to open its track, weather permitting, on Oct. 18. Mazdzer will go on for additional training in Sigulda, Latvia this week. The venue will host the 2015 World Championships. Hamlin, the three-time Olympian and 2009 World Champion, has amassed approximately 40 runs thus far, and will have much more training to start the season, given its late November opening. “Even with the late start to the World Cup season this year, having a lot of time on the sled early is pretty crucial,” she continued. “When you’re in a sport that can only be done half of the year, you always need to take full advantage when there’s ice.” Complete Lillehammer Cup results
USA Luge Team members in Lillehammer for pre-season on ice training camp | Oct 3, 2014
LILLEHAMMER, Norway – With the World Cup luge season set to begin in late November, many of the competing nations, including the United States, are now in Lillehammer, Norway to begin fall preparation at the 1994 Olympic site. Training runs got underway Friday (Oct. 3) morning. Sochi bronze medalist Erin Hamlin, of Remsen, N.Y., leads a U.S. contingent that features six recent Olympians. Hamlin has not been down a track since her final run in Russia that clinched the first singles medal in American history. In fairness the three-time Olympian and 2009 World Champion did spend time on her sled during the off season at the U.S. team’s indoor start facility in Lake Placid. “This is the longest I’ve ever been off a sled,” she said. “Hopefully I’ll feel good. I want to get comfortable on the sled again and get back into it. I want to have fun. The ‘having fun’ mindset worked for me in Sochi.” Hamlin will be joined by Vancouver Olympic teammate Julia Clukey, of Augusta, Maine. Clukey was the top American on the World Cup tour two seasons ago, and topped her 2012-2013 campaign with a career-best silver medal in the Lake Placid World Cup. She remains undaunted, however, after not qualifying for Sochi by an agonizing 0.013 of a second at the Park City, Utah World Cup. “I am excited for the new season and feel really ready. My starts were good over the summer,” said Clukey, who has overcome Arnold-Chiari Syndrome. She captured her seventh career indoor start title last month. Regarding this camp, “I know that Norway tries hard to get the ice ready. I’ll be trying to get a good rhythm for the World Cup season. Sliding is something I love to do and it’s a bonus to be able to do it.” The U.S. men in Lillehammer are two-time Olympian Chris Mazdzer, of Saranac Lake, N.Y., and his Sochi teammate Tucker West, of Ridgefield, Conn. “After a really productive summer, I am looking forward to getting back on ice,” said Mazdzer, 13th in both Olympic appearances, and a team-best fifth in last winter’s World Cup rankings which featured two silver medals. “In the weight room, I set some new personal records for myself and am now 10 pounds heavier than last year.” West has already achieved much in luge at the tender age of 19. He was the youngest American male to qualify for the Olympics; was part of a gold medal in the 2012 Youth Olympic Games team relay; and helped the U.S. to a silver medal in the team relay at the 2014 Junior World Championships. “As with every year, there are always a ton of nerves that accompany the first day,” said West, who is gradually healing a summer wrist injury. “That’s when you can finally see all the hard work you've been doing over the past five months come together. You never really know what to expect, especially when the first day isn't on home turf, but that just makes it that much more fun and exciting. “The summer in my mind was a huge success. I was able to gain much needed body weight, as well as some more speed and strength. On the technological side of things I'm riding a fairly different setup than what I was on last year. I'm confident in the sled, and hopefully it will run well.” Lillehammer will also mark the international debut of a new U.S. doubles unit. Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman, 2014 Olympians with different teammates, partnered last spring. The twosome placed first and second in a pair of seeding races in Lake Placid. Lillehammer will enable them to add to their total of 17 runs together. “Lillehammer will feel like a new track, though it’s not new,” said Mortensen, of Huntington Station, N.Y. “That’s the effect of a new teammate on an old track. Jayson being smaller gives me more control of the sled. I fit better. I’m better balanced. We fit on the sled like a glove.” “I’m looking forward to getting back on the sled and getting comfortable,” added Terdiman, of Berwick, Pa. “From the spring I found that Matt’s a precise driver. He wants to be on line.” The camp will conclude on Oct. 11 with the Lillehammer Cup, a non-World Cup competition that will, nevertheless, give the teams a gauge on their sliding just six weeks prior to the official start of the racing season. The U.S. will return to Lake Placid on Oct. 12, and will look forward to the opening of their home track on Mount Van Hoevenberg on Oct. 18, weather permitting. The Norton National Championships will be held there on Nov. 1-2. A World Cup meet is set for the venue on Dec. 5-6.
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