December 2, 2013

Americans claim silver in World Cup luge

WINTERBERG, Germany – And sports fans thought the Auburn-Alabama football game had an exciting finish Saturday night.

In the team relay Sunday in Winterberg, Germany, the United States foursome of Kate Hansen and Tucker West in singles, with the doubles team of Christian Niccum and Jayson Terdiman illustrated that the strong do survive. The group put down three consistent runs to collect a silver medal as teams around them faltered, crashed, had a bad start, missed the touch pad, were disqualified or all of the above.

In that mix, the German unit, winners of seven straight relays and nine of the past 10 going back to the 2012-2013 season, finished last. Such is the excitement and unpredictability of this new Olympic sport which makes its debut in Sochi.

“We just finished second. What a great race,” exclaimed West, 18, of Ridgefield, Conn., who won a gold medal in this event nearly two years ago in the Youth Olympic Games.

“We had a crazy race today,” added Terdiman, of Berwick, Pa. “We had a great time and a little magic happened at the end. The Germans made a little mistake and gave us our silver medal.”

With the U.S. sitting in second place, the last two nations made unexpected errors. Canada was disqualified when the doubles team of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith inadvertently touched the start gate and it opened.

The next team, Germany, had its lead athlete, Natalie Geisenberger, execute a bad start shortly after winning the women’s singles race that preceded the team relay. The gaffes by both teams kept the U.S. in the runner-up position right behind Italy and in front of Austria.

Italy’s gold medal time was 2 minutes, 25.874 seconds. The Americans posted 2:26.380, and Austria registered 2:27.041.

“It was a great day. We had some newcomers in the team comp,” said Niccum, a two-time Olympian from Woodinville, Wash. “Tucker and Kate did a great job. Racing gets crazy here in Winterberg sometimes. People have to go from different starts (men and women begin at the doubles start) and it’s definitely challenging. Tucker and Kate did a good job to get it down the hill, and Jayson and I did our part to make it to the finish and it all worked out in the end.”

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