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US athletes test their mettle on iced start ramps as season approaches | Sep 12, 2014
Eight Olympians will hit the ice at team headquarters on Sept. 19 in a dash for cash LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – No less than eight United States Olympic luge team members will be in action on Friday, Sept. 19, in the USA Luge Start Championship. The team’s annual on-ice competition will be held on the refrigerated training ramps at team headquarters. The event, to be held at 57 Church Street in Lake Placid, tests luge racers in the all-important explosion off the start handles which begins all luge races. Cash prizes will be at stake. Start time is 6 PM. “The athletes spend the summer months getting physically stronger at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, and getting faster on our ramps,” said USA Luge Sport Program Director Mark Grimmette. “This event gives them and the coaching staff a gauge as to where they are in their pre-season preparation.” Sochi Olympic bronze medalist Erin Hamlin, of Remsen, N.Y., leads the contingent. Hamlin, a three-time Olympian and 2009 World Champion, will be challenged in a deep women’s division by 2014 Sochi teammate and 2012 Youth Olympic Games gold medalist Summer Britcher, of Glen Rock, Pa. and 2010 Olympian and World Cup silver medal winner Julia Clukey, of Augusta, Maine. Clukey, one of the most dominant starters in luge racing, is looking for her third consecutive victory in this fall race and seventh of her career. Emily Sweeney is also expected to contend. The Suffield, Conn. luge racer, the 2013 Junior World Champion, was in the mix to qualify for the Vancouver and Sochi Olympic teams. Sweeney recently returned from an international start event in Meransen, Italy where she was runner-up to Aileen Frisch of Germany. February’s social media sensation Kate Hansen, of La Canada, Calif., the 2008 Junior World Champion, will not compete. Hansen, who also won the World Cup event last January in Sigulda, Latvia, is taking the year off to continue full-time studies at BYU. Chris Mazdzer, of Saranac Lake, N.Y., a member of the 2010 and 2014 Olympic squads, leads the men’s bracket. Mazdzer scored a pair of World Cup silver medals in 2013-2014 en route to finishing fifth in the overall season standings. He will face a stiff challenge from fellow Sochi Olympian Tucker West, of Ridgefield, Conn. West also won a gold medal at the 2012 Youth Olympic Games, and was the youngest U.S. male Olympian in luge when he qualified for Sochi at the age of 18. West, who attends Union College, has won this start championship the past three years. Aidan Kelly, of West Islip, N.Y., another 2014 Olympian, will provide competition for both West and Mazdzer, as will Joe Mortensen, of Huntington Station, N.Y. In doubles, Sochi athletes Matt Mortensen (Joe’s brother), of Huntington Station, N.Y., and Jayson Terdiman, of Berwick, Pa., who raced on different sleds until last spring, are teaming for their first start race. They became a team in March, taking second and first in a pair of seeding races. In addition, a number of rising juniors will test themselves against their older and more seasoned teammates. Riley Stohr, 18, of Whitehall, Mich., had a productive Junior World Cup season that saw him reel off four consecutive podium results. Raychel Germaine, of Roswell, Ga., is the defending Norton Junior National Champion. The 19 year old also contributed to a silver medal in a Junior World Cup team relay last winter in Oberhof, Germany. The doubles team of Justin Krewson and Tristan Jeskanen are ready for the challenge of racing up in class. Krewson, of Eastport, N.Y., and Jeskanen, of Peru, N.Y., anchored a silver medal-winning team relay effort at the 2014 Junior World Championships in Igls, Austria last January. Upon completion of this event, a number of national team athletes will start eyeing Lillehammer, Norway for the first full-length, on ice sliding of the fall season. That camp will be held from Oct. 1-12 on the 1994 Olympic track. Thereafter, the team will begin training on the demanding course at Mount Van Hoevenberg, outside Lake Placid, when the course opens in mid-October. The layout is the site of a World Cup meet Dec. 5-6 which will bring many of the international stars of the Sochi Winter Games to Lake Placid. The Norton National Championships will be held Nov. 1-2 in Lake Placid.
Team Worldwide Extends USA Luge Sponsorship Through 2018 | Aug 26, 2014
WINNSBORO, Texas — Team Worldwide has extended its USA Luge sponsorship contract through 2018. In making the announcement Tuesday, the global forwarder will continue its role as the official cargo carrier for the USA Luge team for the next four years of competition and to PyeongChang, South Korea, which has been elected host city of the XXIII Winter Games. Upon advisement of the continued partnership, USA Luge Executive Director Jim Leahy commented, “Thanks to the entire Team Worldwide ownership group. Your partnership with USA Luge puts us in a great position to insure the success of our athletes over the next four years.” Speaking from experience, Mark Grimmette, USA Luge Sport Program Director and Olympic silver and bronze medalist, added, “As we move around the world for luge competitions, travel logistics can get somewhat interesting. It is nice to know that with Team Worldwide moving our gear, not only will the equipment and luggage arrive as scheduled, but there are times when our cargo actually beats us to the destination. Team Worldwide gives us peace of mind.” Team Worldwide CEO Jason Brunson said, “We are proud to continue to support the USA Luge organization and its athletes through the next Winter Games - here is to great ‘runs’, both for the athletes and for our continued partnership.” For over 16 years, luge athletes, exceptional young men and women, have relied on the cargo logistics and personal interest from Team Worldwide. Team Worldwide’s role is to have the equipment there on time, every time, across the nation or across the world. As USA Luge is not government funded, every dollar and every competition counts as their sustainability is contingent upon sponsorship and private donations. Coming off a great year with Remsen, N.Y. native Erin Hamlin making luge history with the team’s first Olympic singles medal, Team Worldwide supports USA Luge as they meet their next challenges toward another historic Games in South Korea.
Olympic, luge observations from a new USLA board member | Aug 26, 2014
Our newest board member, Terrence Burns, blogs regularly at: http://www.terrencehburnsblog.com/heart-matter/ After his first official days as a USLA board member at last weekend's annual meeting, Terrence penned the following. It didn't take him long to assess the essence of our organization. Terrence Burns ©2014 Last weekend in beautiful Lake Placid, New York (Host City of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games) I attended my first USA Luge Association Board Meeting as a newly minted volunteer Independent Board Member. I’ve had the pleasure and honor to work within virtually every level of the Olympic Movement these past 20-plus years. So when offered, I leapt at the chance to work at the National Governing Body (National Federations for my non-USA friends) level of sport, as this is the one area in which I have little-to-no experience. I realized quite quickly that this is where I should have started my Olympic journey many years ago. Here is the most important lesson reinforced from the weekend: the Olympic Movement is a fragile, elegant and eternal dream knitted together by thousands of people who will never see the limelight, whose names will never be mentioned in a press release and who may never even attend a Games, who toil countless hours with very little resources, who will never sit in a T-3 car or complain about “important things” such receiving the desired Games Accreditation or gaining access to the IOC hotel (or lounge). No, these are the people who constantly wage an exhausting, invisible, seemingly never-ending battle to keep the lights on and train the athletes at the local level. This is the real Olympic Movement. The Olympic mantra states that “Athletes are the heart of the Games”; that is correct, they truly are, and forever will be. But it is the organizations and the people working within them at the bottom rung of the Olympic pyramid, the National Federation level, who are the Olympic Movement’s soul. As I sat through a day of meetings focused on the long-term survival of Luge in the United States (remember, Olympic sport in the USA receives no government funding), I was surrounded by no fewer than four Olympic medalists and World Cup champions. Each of these people were giving their time, energy and yes their hearts and souls to the cause of the sport they loved and that changed their lives. Was there a “prima donna” among them? No. Were they living or relying on past accomplishments or success? No. Was anyone taking credit for anyone else’s work or accomplishments, deluding themselves or others of their own importance, exaggerating their experience or skills? No. Was I moved? Yes – beyond words, actually. Admittedly, my own Olympic experience has been a charmed one and I am very thankful for it. But this past weekend in tiny, humble yet magnificent Lake Placid did more to open my eyes to the beauty and magnificence of the Olympic ideal than any gold medal finish or Opening or Closing Ceremony I’ve ever witnessed. Why? Because I saw sacrifice, desire, honor, persistence and that grandest English verb of all – hope – manifest right before my eyes. I have no idea where my volunteer Luge odyssey will end or what it will accomplish, but I can tell you this: working alongside these good, honest people who view their sport through the lens of love instead of personal gain is exactly what I needed to see, hear and feel. So, the next time you receive that inevitable call or email request to donate a few dollars to grass-roots sports, dig deep my friends, dig very deep; for without a solid financial foundation at its core (and you would be very surprised at how much impact just a few dollars can make), future Olympic podiums will be absent of the young men and women who inspire us with wonder, who make us cry with pride and who challenge us all to be better than we really are. ____________________________ Terrence Burns is a Managing Director of Teneo Strategy. He served on the winning Beijing 2008, Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018 bids, the Russia 2018 World Cup bid, the bids for Golf and Wrestling’s return to the Olympic Games Program, the 2013 Kazan Universiade Games bid and many other bids. Mr. Burns is also the former president and founder of Helios Partners, where he began and managed the firm’s bid advisory practice for ten years. He can be reached here .
USLA Board Meeting Aug. 23 | Aug 25, 2014
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – The new board of directors of the United States Luge Association used its annual meeting Aug. 23 to review with its membership the past season that saw the organization win its first Olympic singles medal, and gave a preview what’s ahead as the team navigates its way to the next Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. “First we must thank the Olympic Regional Development Authority, the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, the North Country Chamber of Commerce and the North Elba Town Board for the level of hospitality and cooperation that allowed us to have a successful meeting,” said USA Luge CEO Jim Leahy. “They showed a high level of interest in our organization, and allowed us to use some of their top venues – the ski jumps and new conference center – to make our meetings meaningful and enjoyable.” During the session, the team’s 2013-2014 achievements were highlighted, including five World Cup medals and Erin Hamlin’s bronze medal Olympic singles accomplishment. Financial and technical summaries were also part of the agenda, as the U.S. Luge Federation Foundation was acknowledged for assisting with the team’s budget issues, while Sport Program Director Mark Grimmette outlined the direction of the technical program as USA Luge sleds continue to gain speed. Saturday’s meetings also included the introduction of Terence Burns, of Atlanta, as the newest USLA board member. Burns comes to the team with extensive experience in the Olympic movement and international business. The event concluded Saturday evening with a barbecue at team headquarters in Lake Placid, guided by the tongs and spatulas of BBQ pit boss Dmitry Feld. The USLA’s marketing manager had the beef falling from the bone to the delight of those in attendance.
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