LAKE PLACID, N.Y. --- For the first time since 2009, the fastest sport on ice, luge, returns to what is considered one of the world's most demanding tracks. From Feb. 5-9, luge's best athletes from 17 nations will try to tame the Olympic Sports Complex track when the FIL Viessmann Luge World Cup returns to Lake Placid, N.Y.
Many of the sport's biggest stars will return to the 20-curve course including German David Moeller, a four-time world champion, and his teammate Felix Loch, the reigning Olympic champion, who leads the 2012-'13 men's singles World Cup points chase. The U.S. squad will be led by Chris Mazdzer. The Saranac Lake, N.Y. resident is currently 17th in the World Cup rankings.
Natalie Geisenberger headlines the women's field. The German has medaled in each World Cup race this season, claiming five gold and two silver medals. As you would expect, the German line up is as strong as ever with Anke Wischnewski and Tatjana Huefner, the 2010 Olympic champion, sitting second and third heading into the Lake Placid event.
Don't forget about American Erin Hamlin (Remsen, N.Y.). During the 2009 FIL luge world championships, the two-time Olympian captured a gold medal in the women's single event, putting an end to then Germany's 99-race winning streak that dated back to 1993. During that time of dominance a German slider had stood atop every World Cup, world championship or Olympic podium.
The doubles' field promises to be deep with a number of sleds vying for medals. Right now everyone is chasing the German duo of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, who opened the season with five consecutive victories. Matthew Mortensen (Huntington Station, N.Y.) and Preston Griffall (Salt Lake City, Utah) headline the U.S. squad. The pair sit 12th overall.
"Our athletes are really looking forward to this long-awaited return to their home track," said USA Luge CEO/executive director Ron Rossi. "We hope these races will give us that final push to finish the World Cup season strong, especially with the Olympic test event in Sochi (Russia) at the end of February."
Racing begins Thursday, Feb.7, with Nations Cup action, a World Cup event qualifying race.
World Cup racing begins Friday, Feb. 8, at 10 a.m. with the doubles' event. The race's second run, scheduled for 11:10 a.m., will be shown live on NBC Universal.
Following the doubles' race, it's the women's turn. The women's first run is slated for 1 p.m., followed by the second run at 2:15 p.m. The women's second heat will be taped and shown on the NBC Sports Network.
Racing continues Saturday, Feb. 9, with both the men's singles and team relay events. The men will take to the track at 9:30 a.m. and their second run is set to begin at 11 a.m., also live on NBC Universal. The team relay race, live on NBC Sports Network, gets underway at 1 p.m.
This week the athletes are in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, competing in the 44th FIL world championships. Loch is the reigning men's world champion, while Huefner holds the women's crown. Austria's Andreas Linger and Wolfgang Linger will try to defend their doubles' title on the 2010 Olympic track.