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October 14, 2013

Saranac Lake slider claims luge title

LAKE PLACID — An hour after winning her first Norton U.S. National Luge Championship on Sunday morning in Lake Placid, Kate Hansen still was not sure what she had done; Chris Mazdzer, who tied Tucker West to the thousandth of a second a year ago, took the title solo over West this time; and Jake Hyrns with Andrew Sherk, who lost the national doubles crown last fall on a sled disqualification, made amends and slid to their first championship.

The three national championship sleds also won the seeding race that was held concurrently on a warm, sunny autumn day on Mount Van Hoevenberg.

“I pulled out some really great runs that I didn’t know I had in me,” said Hansen, the 2008 Junior World Champion from La Canada, Calif. Her three individual heats were unmatched by Julia Clukey, who finished second, and Erin Hamlin, who placed third.

“I’m pretty emotional about it. It’s a big deal,” continued Hansen, who was nearly 2-tenths of a second clear of the field. “I haven’t won anything in a long time. This was a long time coming.”

Hansen’s first two heats – 45.156 and 44.980 seconds - totaled 1 minute, 30.136 seconds to crown her national champion. A third heat, which was part of a seeding race, was also tops. Hansen took her two better of the three runs to also claim victory in the seeding event.

With only one more seeding race Oct. 20 in Park City, Utah these results place Hansen in an advantageous position to make the United States fall World Cup team.

“The sled was really running and I was ready to do it. I wasn’t timid or scared. I just went for it,” she concluded.

Mazdzer’s two runs topped the men’s field to not only claim the Norton championship, but the seeding race, too. In both runs the 2010 Olympian from Saranac Lake, surrendered approximately .06 of a second at the start of each heat to West, before overtaking the youngster down the track.

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