LAKE PLACID, Adirondacks USA - The top luge athletes in the nation will gather at the frozen ramps of the USA Luge Indoor Start Training Facility on September 27, beginning at 7 p.m. local time for the USA Luge Start Championships. The event, which takes place at 57 Church Street in Lake Placid, will feature top U.S. men, women and doubles teams vying for the national start title. Entry to the event is free.
With the 2011 retirement of ten-time Start Championship winner Ashley Walden of Westborough Mass., last year's runner-up, Emily Sweeney of Suffield, Conn., will look to move up a notch to the gold medal position in the women's division. She will face stiff competition from Remsen, N.Y native and 2009 World Champion Erin Hamlin and a resurgent Julia Clukey of Augusta, Maine. Clukey, a 2010 Olympian, spent the majority of last season recovering from surgery to correct a Chiari malformation, which restricted the flow of her cerebrospinal fluid. 2008 Junior World Champion Kate Hansen of La Canada, Calif. will also be fighting for a podium position.
Tucker West of Ridgefield, Conn., who stunned the field by winning the 2011 men's competition at the age of 16, will look to notch up his second title. A field that includes last year's silver medalist, Nick Gerardi of Queensbury, N.Y. and 2010 Olympian Chris Mazdzer of Saranac Lake, N.Y., will challenge West.
In doubles, the duo of Matt Mortensen of Huntington Station, N.Y. and Preston Griffall of Salt Lake City, Utah hope to fend off challenges from Grapevine, Texas native Shane Hook and Salt Lake City's Zac Clark. Junior World Cup medalists Jake Hyrns from Muskegon, Mich. and Andrew Sherk of Fort Washington, Pa. will also be competing for a podium slot. The National Team duo of Christian Niccum of Woodinville, Wash. and Jayson Terdiman of Berwick, Pa. will not compete as Niccum continues his recovery from back surgery in April.
Fans will also have the opportunity to try their hand at the luge start immediately following the conclusion of the approximately one hour competition. A $10 donation to USA Luge gets you a t-shirt, two age-appropriate beverages, courtesy of Saranac and Lake Placid Craft Brewing Company, and at least two tries on the start ramp, crowd dependent. All proceeds will help support the athletes and programs of USA Luge.
For the third consecutive year, West World Media will present the USA Luge Open Start Championships live on www.usaluge.org. Fans will be able to watch the competition, see results and chat as the action takes place.
For more information on The Fastest Sport on Ice ®, visit www.usaluge.org