An odd, short­ened World Cup luge stop winds down in Canada

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Those com­pet­ing in World Cup luge races Saturday night got only one run in­stead of the cus­tom­ary two, be­cause de­lays in get­ting the sleds to the track forced some sched­ule changes.

Tucker West of the US ap­par­ently didn’t mind. West won the men’s World Cup race for the sec­ond straight week­end, fin­ish­ing in 50.109 sec­onds for his third ca­reer vic­tory on the cir­cuit. Wolf­gang Kindl of Aus­tria was sec­ond in 50.153 sec­onds, and Andi Lan­gen­han of Ger­many was third in 50.243 sec­onds. “He is on top of the world,” USA Luge women’s racer Sum­mer Britcher said of West, as he draped him­self in an Amer­i­can flag on the podium af­ter the race. “You can see it.” West’s win capped a strange World Cup week in Whistler, where most ath­letes waited around all week and were un­able to train while their sleds were stuck in tran­sit be­cause of a snow­storm. “This was a crazy week,”West said.

West didn’t get on the Whistler ice for prac­tice un­til Saturday. John Fen­nell didn’t even get that. Fen­nell, like all other ath­letes who rely on Na­tions Cup qual­i­fy­ing races to get a chance at be­ing in the World Cup field, couldn’t get on the track at the Whistler Slid­ing Cen­ter this week. Ship­ping prob­lems meant most com­peti­tors plan­ning to race in Whistler didn’t have their sleds un­til Fri­day night, lead­ing to a very con­densed World Cup sched­ule - with all train­ing and races be­ing squeezed into Saturday.

BIG­GEST CASUALITY

To make that hap­pen, Na­tions Cup runs were can­celed. That meant a lot of slid­ers were in Whistler this week for noth­ing. “I feel ter­ri­ble for all of the ath­letes who have trav­eled to Whistler who will re­ceive no time on the ice and will only be al­lowed to be spec­ta­tors,” USA Luge veteran Chris Mazdzer said. Mazdzer didn’t like the move by In­ter­na­tional Luge Fed­er­a­tion of­fi­cials, and team­mate Fen­nell was maybe the big­gest casuality. Fen­nell used to race for Canada, knows the Whistler track well and this week­end was a le­git­i­mate chance for him to col­lect some crit­i­cal World Cup points that could have got­ten his first year with the Amer­i­cans rolling.

In­stead, he got noth­ing. No points, and now prob­a­bly no chance of qual­i­fy­ing for the world cham­pi­onships later this sea­son.

“I’m feel­ing angry, frus­trated, up­set,” Fen­nell said. “I don’t think it’s the right de­ci­sion. Zero World Cup points is huge for me.”

Fen­nell had his sled with him in Whistler all week, while many slid­ers didn’t get theirs un­til Fri­day night - a truck in­volved in the ship­ping of sleds from last week­end’s World Cup in Lake Placid, New York got stuck in a snow­storm and it took sev­eral days to get the sleds rerouted and on the move again. But since so many slid­ers did not have equip­ment, Fen­nell and oth­ers who had their sleds were told to keep them off the ice.

“This was my best chance to do well this sea­son and show coaches and the or­ga­ni­za­tion what I’m ca­pa­ble of, and it was a waste of time, ef­fort and money,” Fen­nell said. “I’m walk­ing away empty-handed.”

Canada’s Alex Gough walked away in a very dif­fer­ent mood. Gough won the women’s race Saturday night on her home track, fin­ish­ing the sin­gle-heat com­pe­ti­tion in 38.796 sec­onds. Ger­mans took sec­ond and third, with Natalie Geisen­berger fin­ish­ing in 38.848 and Tat­jana Huefner in 38.850.

For the US, Emily Sweeney was fourth, Erin Ham­lin sixth and Britcher took sev­enth. “This was a very in­ter­est­ing week,” Sweeney said. In dou­bles, Toni Eg­gert and Sascha Be­necken of Ger­many pre­vailed in 38.542 sec­onds.

Fel­low Ger­mans To­bias Wendl and To­bias Arlt were sec­ond in 38.570, and Peter Penz and Ge­org Fis­chler of Aus­tria were third in 38.642.

—AP

WHISTLER: Natalie Geisen­berger of Ger­many races down the track dur­ing a women’s World Cup Luge event, Saturday in Whistler, British Columbia.

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