LUGE: Fall 2012 National Team Named
April 30, 2012 8:46 AM
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – 2009 World Champion Erin Hamlin, along with the doubles team of Christian Niccum and Jayson Terdiman, are among those named to the fall 2012 USA Luge National Team. 2010 Olympian Chris Mazdzer will lead the charge for the men’s squad.
Hamlin, a two-time Olympian from Remsen, N.Y. and World Cup medalist last season, will be joined by her 2010 Olympic teammate Julia Clukey of Augusta, Maine. Clukey spent much of last season recovering from a surgical procedure performed by Dr. Robert Bray at the D.I.S.C. Sports and Spine Center to relieve headaches and other symptoms caused by Arnold-Chiari Syndrome. Also joining Hamlin will be Kate Hansen of La Canada, Calif., who raced as a member of the National and Junior National teams last season, posting an impressive eight place finish at a World Cup event in Oberhof Germany. Emily Sweeney of Suffield, Conn., who also spent time on the Junior National and National squads, has one more year of junior eligibility, but was also named to the National Team. Sweeney is currently completing basic training for the National Guard. Following completion of her basic training, Sweeney hopes to become a part of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete program, which will allow her to train and race while she serves.
Niccum, of Woodinville, Wash., and Terdiman, of Berwick, Pa., ranked seventh in last season’s overall World Cup, will return to the team, joined by Matt Mortensen of Huntington Station, N.Y. and Preston Griffall of Salt Lake City, Utah. Mortensen and Griffall, part of the aforementioned World Class Athlete Program, will train in Lake Placid all summer as a part of their duties. Graduating from the junior ranks will be Jake Hyrns of Muskegon, Mich. and Andrew Sherk of Ft. Washington, Pa. Sherk and Hyrns won the first two Junior World Cups of the season before being injured in a training run and missing the remainder of the international competition season. Also fighting an injury is Niccum, who just underwent corrective disc surgery from Dr. Robert Bray.
Chris Mazdzer will return to the team after spending the first half of last season focusing on sled and race equipment development. Mazdzer, the 2012 Norton National Champion, will be joined by two youngsters. Taylor Morris of South Jordan, Utah, and Isaac Underwood of Skandia, Mich., will continue to cut their teeth in the senior ranks as graduating juniors, but not before finishing basic training for the National Guard. Like Sweeney, Morris and Underwood hope to become a part of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program.
USA Luge is also giving several athletes, named to the national "C" team, the opportunity to further hone their skills in the sport with the possibility of being tabbed by the coaching staff to enter selected races. Shane Hook of Grapevine, Texas and Zac Clark of Salt Lake City, Utah will look to qualify in doubles, while Joe Mortensen of Huntington Station, N.Y., a member of the National Guard, and former Junior National Team member, Nick Gerardi of Queensbury, N.Y., will both be given a chance to join the men’s team. Gerardi stepped away from the sport for a few years before making a successful return this past season.
The majority of the athletes will arrive for the Lake Placid United States Olympic Training Center resident athlete program by July for more sport specific training after conditioning at their respective homes in the interim. The sliding season is tentatively scheduled to begin in Lake Placid in mid-October, while the official international race calendar is targeted to start in late November.
“As a team, the number one priority will be to improve our start times during the offseason, remarked Mark Grimmette, USA Luge Sport Program Director. “The coaches will be working diligently to help the athletes reach their goals of improved start performance.”
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