CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA - United States junior luge racers ended their stay Friday in Calgary, Alberta as they started - with a visit to the podium after taking the bronze medal in the team competition.
Summer Britcher and Tucker West in singles, teaming with Ty Andersen and Anthony Espinoza in doubles, landed the U.S. in third place and gave the Americans their third medal of the two-day series. Britcher, West and Andersen were members of the 2012 Youth Olympic Games gold medal relay unit.
Espinoza teamed with Andersen last week as the duo took doubles bronze at the Junior World Championships in Park City, Utah. They added to the collection by anchoring another bronze medal in the team relay.
The team competition in Calgary concluded the Junior World Cup stop on the 1988 Olympic track. The format did not use a touch pad to open the start gate for the second and third sliders of each nation. That procedure will be used at the Sochi Winter Olympics nearly 13 months from now.
In the meantime, these juniors had traditional race runs with women’s and men’s singles, followed by a doubles sled where athletes crossed the finish line stopping the clock. The total of the three heats gave each country a final time.
Germany captured the team event with a combined three heat time of two minutes, 13.822 seconds. The team was comprised of women’s singles winner Nathalie Burkhardt, men’s runner-up Florian Berkes and the Calgary winning doubles unit of Florian Funk and Tim Brendel.
The Americans followed second place Italy. Britcher, of Glen Rock, Pa., West, of Ridgefield, Conn., Andersen, of Alpine, Utah, and Espinoza, of Park City, Utah were timed in a total of 2:14.656. They were 0.83 of a second from the Germans.
As Burkhardt was running away with a victory and leading a podium sweep for Germany, the U.S. settled for finishes of 13th from Britcher, and 14th by Raychel Germaine, of Roswell, Ga.
The U.S. story in men’s singles was similar as Espinoza led the group with a 15th place finish as Italy’s Kevin Fischnaller squeaked out a 0.04 victory over Berkes.
Espinoza was nearly 1.7 off the pace. West, racing up in the junior men’s class as a 17 year old, was next in 16th position. Aidan Kelly, of West Islip, N.Y. wound up 19th.
Complete team results
Complete doubles results
Complete women’s results
Complete men’s singles
The junior circuit now flies to Europe for the final three events of the season, including the next stop, Feb. 1-2, in Oberhof, Germany.