Kate Hansen surprised the top two U.S. sliders at the National Luge Championships, beating Olympians Erin Hamlin and Julia Clukey for her first U.S. title.
Hansen, 21, posted a two-run time of 1 minute, 30.136 seconds at the Mount Van Hoevenberg track in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Sunday. Clukey, the 2012 U.S. champion, took second in 1:30.326. Hamlin, the 2008-2011 national champion, was third in 1:30.386.
“I’m impressed I had it in me,” Hansen told The Associated Press. “I’m feeling pretty good. It hasn’t hit me yet. I’m more or less just grateful that I threw down some solid runs.”
2010 Olympian Chris Mazdzer won the men’s crown in 1:46.498, as expected, and Jacob Hyrns and Andrew Sherk won their first doubles title.
The U.S. team for the World Cup season, which begins Nov. 16 in Lillehammer, Norway, will be determined after more races in Park City, Utah, on Oct. 20.
Hansen’s win makes her the early favorite to secure the third women’s berth on the Olympic team, should the U.S. qualify the maximum three spots as it’s expected to do. A nation’s Olympic spots are determined by World Cup results, as is the specific U.S. Olympic team.
Hansen, the 2008 world junior champion, tied with Emily Sweeney as the third-ranked U.S. woman in World Cup points standings last season. They were 20th overall. Clukey was sixth, and Hamlin, the 2009 world champion, was seventh.
Sweeney was fourth at the National Championships on Sunday.
Hansen, then 17, Sweeney and Sweeney’s older sister, Megan, competed in a race-off for the final berth on the 2010 Olympic team. Megan Sweeney won that spot.
For the men, Mazdzer is the only member of the 2010 Olympic team still active. He beat Tucker West by .114 of a second after the two tied for the National Championship last fall. Taylor Morris was third, followed by Aidan Kelly.
In doubles, Hyrns and Sherk ousted 2012 national champions Matt Mortensen and Preston Griffall (1:30.210) Christian Niccum and Jayson Terdiman placed third (1:30.493).