LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) — Tucker West and his sled were too heavy last week.
This week, they were too good.
West won his second career World Cup luge gold medal Friday, edging Russia’s Semen Pavlichenko by the smallest margin of victory on the circuit in nearly four years. West finished two runs on his home Mount Van Hoevenberg track in 1 minute, 43.088 seconds — a mere 0.006 seconds faster than Pavlichenko, who was in position to win until the very last curve of the competition.
“Luckily, I showed up today,” West said.
His win was part of a big day for USA Luge. Earlier Friday, Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken of Germany won the doubles race, narrowly beating Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman — the first Americans doubles sled to medal in a World Cup since 2010.
Put another way, Germany went five days without winning a World Cup doubles medal. The U.S. went six years without one.
“It’s been a long journey, for sure,” Terdiman said.
It was a long week for West, who was in second place at the midpoint of last weekend’s season opener in Winterberg when he was disqualified for being overweight.
He more than atoned for that Friday, adding this gold to the one he won at Lake Placid in 2014.
“It was disappointing last week, sitting in second and having that taken away from you by a technicality,” West said. “Obviously, that’s going to be disappointing. But I saw the speed was there and I was looking forward to this week, being on home ice and in front of friends and family. I was angry, I was determined to do better and I was hungry to do it.”
Wolfgang Kindl of Austria was third, 0.094 seconds behind West. Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. took fourth.
In the doubles race, Eggert and Benecken finished their two runs in 1:28.382. Mortensen and Terdiman took the silver in 1:28.545, and Robin Johannes Geueke and David Gamm of Germany were third in 1:28.726.
Eggert and Benecken are now 3-for-3 this season, having swept the doubles season-openers at Winterberg last weekend.
The last U.S. World Cup doubles medal was a bronze for Terdiman and Christian Niccum on Dec. 4, 2010. American doubles teams had not reached the podium in 60 World Cup races since, including sprint competitions.
“This one will taste better, I think,” Terdiman said.
The Americans didn’t even have to wait to see the scoreboard at the finish line. From the roar of the crowd as they made their way out of the final turn, they knew a medal was theirs.
“I’m really hoping this is the stepping stone for a brighter future,” Mortensen said. “This shows we can get in there. This was part of our four-year plan, to get a medal this season, and now we’ve done it early and this is fantastic.”
U.S. women’s luge star Erin Hamlin said Mortensen and Terdiman knew after last weekend’s World Cup opener, where they finished fourth in the sprint race and sixth in the doubles, they were sliding well enough to compete.
Coming to home ice apparently was the final piece of the puzzle.
“This year’s been really good for them,” Hamlin said. “They’ve had really solid training. I think they’re finally at a point where they’re pretty comfortable on their sled, really enjoying sliding and feeling good about sliding. So I think it’s exciting to see.”
The World Cup resumes Saturday with the women’s race and team relay. USA Luge swept the podium in the women’s race at Mount Van Hoevenberg last year.
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