© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

USA Luge athletes discuss upcoming sliding season and announce new women’s doubles team

USA Luge logo
USA Luge
USA Luge logo

Based in the Adirondacks, USA Luge athletes are gearing up for the upcoming competitive sliding season. Two Olympic women’s singles sliders will team up for doubles competition in this year’s World Cup competitions.

Many of the USA Luge athletes are currently training in Park City, Utah in advance of World Cup competition, which begins December 3rd in Austria.

On Monday luge singles athletes Summer Britcher and Emily Sweeney announced that they will be sliding together during World Cup racing this season. Britcher, a three-time Olympian, says it’s exciting to learn a new discipline within their sport.

“Emily and I have made the decision to not only compete in World Cup singles this year but to join forces and compete in women’s doubles. I mean we’re really excited. It’s been going really well. When you’ve been in sport for 16 years, you’re looking for those incremental changes and it’s been so cool learning this new discipline in our sport where every run, every day of training is something you can grow, we can apply both of our careers to our approach and our strategy and it’s been really cool.”

In doubles luge one slider lays on top of the other. Britcher says that means they’ve had to learn new skills for competitive racing.

“The start technique is very different to begin with. Emily being the bottom driver, the bottom woman, can’t see down the track as well so she’s using peripheral vision. The sled drives a lot differently. Being so much heavier with two athletes instead of one, some of the pressures down the track take different steering. It’s definitely different. Different enough that it’s very exciting.”

In June the International Olympic Committee approved including women’s doubles luge in the 2026 Olympics. Brichter says it is a significant step for women athletes.

“Seeing the push for gender equality from the IOC and the USOPC and having it included in the 2026 Olympics is just something that I want to be a part of. It’s the first time in our sport that we’re really seeing true gender equality.”

Four-time Olympian and 2018 silver medalist Chris Mazdzer is enthusiastic about women’s doubles competition being a part of the upcoming sliding season.

“Just because its untested and there’s a lot of unknowns and I’m really excited about that.”

Bejing Olympic men’s doubles team of Zach DiGregorio and Sean Hollander said they are benefitting from a new start coach.

"For me and Sean it’s been a huge help. We’ve noticed a huge change from last year’s times.”

“Yeah," adds Hollander, "He just brings some consistency to start coaching throughout the season. Just having someone there every day who’s main goal is to just make us better at the start. He’s always pushing us even when we’re tired. So it’s awesome to have him.”

Unseasonably warm weather in some areas of the U.S. was mentioned and World Cup luger Brittany Arndt noted her work with the organization Protect Our Winters.

“I do a lot for pushing policies within local government. I’ve worked with New York Senate and this year with Utah. And it seems like people know that things are changing but don’t always make the best decisions. And there are more rain races than anything else in the last couple of years and it’s really disappointing and it’s sad and I hope that we can do something because we all love the sport and all we want to do is compete.”

USA Luge is based in Lake Placid. Six lugers on the 15-member national team are from New York state, two are from Connecticut and three hail from Massachusetts.