Annual USA Luge Start Competition to be followed by Public Rides Fundraiser

27 Aug Annual USA Luge Start Competition to be followed by Public Rides Fundraiser

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – When members of the USA Luge national and junior national teams gather each September for the annual start competition, it can only mean that a new racing season is fast approaching.

It’s also an indicator for the athletes as to how their conditioning and start training regimens have progressed during the off-season. The answers will come on Friday, Sept. 18, at 6 PM at USA Luge headquarters, 57 Church Street in Lake Placid.

The event is open to the public free of charge, with rides down the ramps as a fundraiser to be offered after the competition.

A number of recent Olympians will be in the competitive field.

Julia Clukey, a 2010 Olympian from Augusta, Maine, is among the world’s quickest from the start handles. She will use that ability to hopefully return to the World Cup podium. Clukey, now in her 18th campaign, achieved a silver medal in February 2013.

“The start competition is a good way to evaluate where I stand physically for the upcoming season,” stated Clukey. “With World Championships in Koenigssee (Germany) this year, the start absolutely makes or breaks a chance for a top performance. With it taking place a few weeks before our on ice training starts, it’s a good transition back into competition mode.”

Clukey has a team-high seven indoor start titles in Lake Placid and four international championships, held annually in Meransen, Italy.

Sochi bronze medalist, 2009 World Champion and three-time Olympian Erin Hamlin of Remsen, N.Y. will also be in the lineup.

On the heels of these veterans will be hard-charging Summer Britcher of Glen Rock, Pa., and Emily Sweeney of Suffield, Conn.

Up and comer Raychel Germaine of Roswell, Ga., has graduated from the junior ranks. She hopes that a shoulder injury rehabs by September 18.

Sochi Olympian and two-time start champion, Tucker West, who was also the team’s youngest start winner in 2011, is anxious to return to the event after completing another semester at Union College. 

West is one of the World Cup circuit’s fastest starters. However, another 2014 Olympian, Aidan Kelly of West Islip, N.Y., has gotten much stronger since the Games, and is ready to usurp West’s position. Kelly’s 2014-2015 season was curtailed by injury.

Riley Stohr, of Whitehall, Mich., will be the top junior in the field, pending his medical clearance following shoulder surgery. Stohr made his World Cup debut in Lake Placid last season, posting an 11th place result. 

The doubles division will also be watched closely as USA Luge debuts a pair of new teams that want their place on the national team.

The start race, on the team’s artificially refrigerated ramps, will come approximately one month from the competitors return to the full length track at Mount Van Hoevenberg, outside Lake Placid. 

The Norton National Championships will be held in late October and early November in both Lake Placid and Park City, Utah. The World Cup luge tour opens for the 2015-2016 campaign on Nov. 28-29 in Igls, Austria.

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